A balance needs to be struck between protecting the region’s heritage and tackling climate change.
That was the message delivered to councillors at this week’s [WED] Stratford District Council overview and scrutiny committee meeting after Cllr John Fielding (Con, Red Horse) raised some of the issues faced by owners of listed buildings on his patch.
He explained: “The problem they face is firstly getting approval from the council for putting in things like heat-source, solar panels and other matters and now it has got to a stage where contractors won’t give a quote because they are going to come up against a buffer.
“How are we going to get these listed properties properly insulated if we have a negativeness from a department in the district council?”
John Careford, head of place and economy at the council, admitted it was all about striking a balance.
He said: “We need to realise the potential impact that some of these technologies may have on the character and appearance.
“Ultimately, with all climate change issues it is about where we strike the balance. Obviously with listed buildings and conservation areas we give more weight to heritage but at what point does character outweigh climate? I say that because I think it is a really difficult issue which we need to grapple with if we are to be serious about addressing climate change. It is a balance we have to strike."
Dave Barber, the council’s programme director for climate change, admitted there would be difficult decisions to be made when it came to some of the area's listed buildings.
He added: “The point about having to balance the heritage values of properties against the impact that climate change extensions might have is a key one.
“In my mind, I think there is a question as to whether we actually get that balance right. I think there needs to be a review of whether conservation officers have the right policy context around the climate change agenda because it is a new area for them to be getting their heads around.
“I don’t think we will ever reach a point with some of our older listed buildings where we can say they will be zero carbon buildings. There might be some works that do impact negatively on the heritage value to the extent that we can’t allow it to go ahead. This does apply to things like heat pumps and solar panels and also external wall insulation so we are going to have some difficult decisions to make.”