One of Birmingham’s most protected areas has been ‘blighted’ by a decision to install uPVC windows and doors in hundreds of homes.
It is the first time in the Bournville’s history that plastic-framed windows and doors have been allowed on a large scale in.
A city conservation society has criticised the decision to allow the uPVC alternative to be installed in the model village.
The Victorian Society said stripping 100-year-old timber frames was not good for the environment and looked ugly.
More than 310 properties rented by Bournville Works Housing Society (BWHS), which forms part of Bournville Village Trust (BVT), have been fitted with the uPVC alternatives.
Coun Nigel Dawkins (Con, Bournville) said he persuaded Bournville Village Trust to install the windows because many tenants were not able to afford wooden replacements.
He said people living in the homes were happy with the resulting lower heating costs and fewer drafts.
He said: “The truth is people can’t afford the wooden replacements, which is why they’ve never been replaced. Windows have been drafty and rattly for ten years and no one’s done a thing about it.
“It looks as good as the day they were built. They’ve got the right colour, the right design and the right quality.
“I think they’re wonderful things and the residents are happy because it has reduced heating costs, there are no drafts and it has enhanced Bournville in my view.”
But Stephen Hartland, who is the chairman of the Birmingham and West Midlands branch of the Victorian Society, said it was a shame that traditional wooden materials had not been used instead.
He explained the windows stopped buildings from being able to breathe and added that they were also worse for the environment because they would never rot.
“We would always prefer to see traditional materials used,” he said. “There are plenty of places that manufacture hard wood window frames so you can have replacement windows.
“uPVC is clearly not as environmentally friendly as using wood.”
The Victorian Society was set up “to prevent the needless destruction and alteration of buildings of architectural and historic interest” which were built between 1837 and 1914.
BVT was founded in 1900 by chocolate manufacturer George Cadbury and looks after 8,000 mixed-tenure properties in the village.
The BWHS was set up in 1919 as a mutual co-operative to provide 350 houses for Cadbury employees.
But the BWHS does not fall within the two conservation areas – the Bournville Tenants’ Area and the Bournville Conservation Area – which were established in the 1970s.
In May 2006 trustees introduced a revised policy following a review of the use of UPVC. It said UPVC would not be permitted in certain areas including the BWHS.
Its estate design guide said: “The trustees continue to have a strong preference for timber both on environmental and aesthetic grounds.”
The trust’s reservations against UPVC now applied only to the two conservation areas, added Coun Dawkins.
A spokesman for BVT was unavailable for comment, but chairman Roger Cadbury in a ‘mission statement’ for the trust’s design guide said: “The fine examples of domestic architecture, together with the balance of buildings and open spaces, are features of the Estate that distinguish it from other suburbs and these should be carefully maintained so that our precious neighbourhood retains its character for which it is rightly acclaimed.”