Spot the difference

Resident Veronica Nicholson with councillor Ray Wells
Resident Veronica Nicholson with councillor Ray Wells

CONSERVATION chiefs have been slammed for objecting to a pensioner’s plea to install double glazing – despite an identical neighbouring property having similar windows installed six years ago.

Veronica Nicholson, 66, wants to replace the single pane glass windows of her Grade II listed West Lodge home, in the West Park area of Hartlepool, with double glazing.

But Hartlepool Borough Council officers won’t support the plans because it is in a conservation area.

That is despite the neighbouring East Lodge, just yards away, having double glazing fitted in 2006 after permission was granted by the council’s planning committee.

Conservation officers objected at the time, only for councillors to vote against their recommendation.

Now Mrs Nicholson, who has to scrape ice from the front room window during sub-zero weather, has called for common sense.

Condensation is also causing damp which the mum-of-three fears could affect her health.

Mrs Nicholson, a retired sheltered accommodation warden, has rented the property for the past six years.

The windows are single panes of glass in wooden frames and there is also removable inner glazing, which has to be removed to clean the inside of the windows.

Mrs Nicholson, a grandmother-of-five, said: “It has gone too far and we need new windows.

“Water is running down the windows and making the walls wet.

“We don’t sit in the living room that often because it gets cold on a night, and this room takes a lot of heating.

“The current windows are not very energy efficient and when it gets cold we have to scrape ice off the windows.

“If next door can have the windows, why can’t we?”

Mrs Nicholson, who has received support from her neighbour who has the windows, is mum to Louise Harper, 42, Claire Earle, 38, and Helen Skinner, 35.

The picturesque lodges are both listed buildings and are located at the former entrance to Tunstall Court.

Conservative group leader Ray Wells said it is time to put “people before policy”.

The Park ward councillor said: “I feel I have passed into a parallel universe and one where policy is put before people and buildings are more important than resident’s health.

“How can anybody justify telling pensioners they must continue to scrape the ice off the inside of the glass when temperatures fall below freezing, when the identical property next door has been fully insulated with double glazing for a number of years.

“It is simply beyond belief.”

Coun Wells added: “I have instructed Mrs Nicholson to contact her landlord to get them to submit a planning application as soon as possible to allow councillors to have the final say on this matter.”

A council spokesman said: “Tunstall West Lodge is a listed building in the Park Conservation Area and council officers are duty bound to follow established national planning guidelines when applications are made to improve such properties.

“In terms of Tunstall East Lodge, consent was granted in 2006 for plastic double glazed windows after the planning committee approved the application against officer recommendation.

“All of the proper democratic processes were followed and on occasions members of the planning committee do have a different view to that of officers.

“The council is still in discussion with the owners of Tunstall West Lodge offering advice and support to bring about improvements to the property whilst retaining its historical appearance.”