Published On: Thu, Mar 26th, 2015

A case of choosing the correct products for the application

This month I have been inundated with reports and data on the state of the (fenestration) market. Reports from two respected market research organisations stood out from the others, both confirming that the industry is now experiencing a period of credible growth. Key Note have revealed that the market for windows and doors grew by 3.8% in 2014 to a value of £5.35bn – growth that is set to continue and will see the market valued at £6.24bn in 2019. This is very encouraging, but probably not so encouraging as the figures revealed by AMA Research for the conservatory and glazed extensions sector. It’s a sector that has really needed some good news, but now it looks as if all the product investment by conservatory manufacturers is starting to pay off. Valued at £620m in 2014 by AMA, the market is predicted to increase to £760m in 2018. Both these sets of figures are good news, and are testament to the many innovations that are helping UK homeowners to invest in fenestration products.

Fenestration products have been in the news recently in a test case that could have huge implications for our sector. The case sought to challenge a ‘prejudice’ held by planners against allowing double-glazed windows in historic buildings. In an all too familiar story, Timothy Guinness was prevented from replacing his windows because the proposed replacements would have harmed the historical character and appearance of the building. Mr Guinness planned to replace old Crittall windows with timber windows, but was unsuccessful in his appeal. He claimed that the inspector had placed little weight on the thermal-efficiency gains and had also shown unfair prejudice against double-glazed windows – a prejudice he believed to be common among planning officers and planning inspectors.

The judgement makes interesting reading and both sides present convincing arguments. If there has to be any criticism it could be one levelled at the style of Mr Guinness’s proposed replacement windows. It is very important for heritage-sensitive window replacements that they are replaced like for like – especially in terms of design features. The developments in PVC-U flush sash and vertical sliders are now giving rise to more challenges to planners’ historical prejudices. In Mr Guinness’s case, it might have been more advantageous to propose replacing the windows with new modern-performing Crittall windows that would not harm the building’s historical character and appearance. The fenestration sector has the right products for all applications, it is just a case of choosing the correct products for the application, and then hopefully the planners and inspectors will drop their prejudices against double glazing.

John CowieEditor