A  landlord believes she was treated unfairly by Wiltshire Council in an ordeal that cost her more than £3,000.

Fenella Brotherwood upgraded the windows in her rented property in North Wraxall to double-glazed uPVC replacements after the old sash windows were reported as damaged by the tenants.

In July 2023, she was informed by Wiltshire Council that the new windows were a breach of planning control.

Now the landlord says that after the costs of installing and removing the new windows, she does not have the funds to replace them and has been obliged to refit the old windows.

The tenants, who do not wish to be named, have reported that they are allowing for damp ingress and mould build-up.

They said: “Two of the upstairs windows are in such a state that every time they’re closed, pieces of wood break off.

“Because two of the living room windows were removed and then had to be put back in, parts of the frame are missing and damp is getting in.”

They also said that some of the old windows had to be sealed shut and cannot be used to ventilate the room.

Wiltshire Times: The old windows are in a state of disrepair.The old windows are in a state of disrepair. (Image: Fenella Brotherwood)

The landlord claims she was given improper and inaccurate communication from planning officers when she contacted them in 2022.

She emailed a conservation officer in November 2022 requesting advice on changing the wooden windows to uPVC of “a similar design.”

She then mistakenly contacted Building Control, rather than Planning Control, who told her she would not need building control should the installers be FENSA registered.

She believes that at this stage, she should have been told she needed planning permission or directed to the relevant department for help.

Instead, she received no further contact and after saving for several months to finance the work, arranged for a contractor to install new windows.

Following a neighbour's complaint in July 2023, Wiltshire Council informed her that the installation was unauthorised and that the replacement units were different in material, design, appearance and profile, and did not fit suitably within the pre-existing openings.

When the landlord appealed the council’s decision, she was told that the lack of information she had received from officers in 2022 did not convey approval.

She was also told that should she wish to replace the windows for uPVC in future, she should consider high-quality uPVC sliding sash windows reflective of the original windows design.

Wiltshire Times:  The new windows (right) are considered to differ too much from the old ones (left). The new windows (right) are considered to differ too much from the old ones (left). (Image: Fenella Brotherwood)

She describes being sick with worry, unable to afford replacements and considering taking out a loan.

Regarding the current state of the house, she said: “It’s really, really draughty - with the climate emergency and the cost of living crisis, we were just trying to do the right thing as landlords.”

When Wiltshire Council was contacted for a response, Councillor Nick Botterill, cabinet member for development control said, “In July we received a complaint about alleged unauthorised uPVC window units that had been installed at a property in North Wraxall which we investigated.

“While not a listed building the property is situated within the North Wraxall Conservation Area which is subject to greater controls on development.

“The replacement windows were a different material, design, appearance and profile and a breach of planning control.

“The owner of the property chose to resolve the matter by re-instating the original windows.

“We would urge anyone who is thinking about replacing their windows to use our permitted development enquiry service, which can be found on the Wiltshire Council website, to find out if planning permission is required before proceeding.

“In the cases where an application is required these can then be considered using all the guidance in place so that householders end up with the appropriate materials and finishes for the location.”