Residents of King Charles's Poundbury slam rules banning PVC windows
Residents of King Charles’ model village Poundbury slam ‘ludicrous’ rules that force them to use wooden window frames instead of plastic despite them going to rot
- John Moorby has been trying to get permission to replace his rotting frames
The Duchy of Cornwall has been criticised in a long-running row over the use of plastic window frames in King Charles’ designer town.
John Moorby is one of the residents in Poundbury, Dorset, who have been fighting the Duchy since 2015 to try to get permission to replace his rotting softwood window frames with more durable uPVC.
Eight years on he is no closer to a resolution and claims that, although the Duchy bans the use of uPVC, the material is being used in new builds but is just ‘hidden’.
uPVC Cavity closers – the seal that insulates the gap in cavity walls – are used on new homes and are then covered over with impractical wooden frames which are rotting.
The Duchy of Cornwall has been criticised in a long-running row over the use of plastic window frames in King Charles’ designer town. Above: Affected residents John Moorby (left) and Peter Norster (right)
The Duchy, which insists wood is more sustainable and reflects the architectural heritage of Dorset, are refusing to compromise on the contentious issue.
Residents in the King’s town have to sign up to the Duchy’s code when they move in.
READ MORE: ‘Heartbroken’ resident of Prince Charles’ designer village Poundbury is ordered to strip back magnificent floral display outside her home
While they accept most of the rules outlined, critical residents say the one on windows is misconceived.
They formed The Window Group in 2020 to fight for change.
The wooden frames, which were expected to last 50 years, have rotted after just 20. The painted softwood cracks and peels, rain gets into the wood and it then rots.
They are expensive to maintain, with residents saying they have paid out thousands of pounds to have them treated and repainted every few years and now face even bigger sums to have them replaced.
Mr Moorby, a retired nuclear engineer, says the counter-productive rule is making the King’s model town look prematurely shabby but the Duchy refuse to answer his questions about why uPVC is fine for things like cavity closers but not for their windows.
Poundbury is Charles’ vision of an ideal town, where private and affordable housing mix with boutique shops, places of work and services like the local school and medical centre within walking distance. Above: The King and Queen during a visit to Poundbury in June
John Moorby is one of the residents in Poundbury, Dorset, that has been fighting the Duchy since 2015 to try to get permission to replace his rotting softwood window frames with more durable uPVC. But eight years on he is no closer to a resolution and claims that, although the Duchy bans the use of uPVC, the material is being used in new builds but is just ‘hidden’. Above: New buildings going up with uPVC cavity closers
It is also used for things like gutters, drain pipes, waste piping and other fixtures.
Mr Moorby, 83, said: ‘The Duchy of Cornwall has stated unequivocally that uPVC is not permitted in Poundbury yet it is clearly being used extensively for cavity closers on new builds.
‘It seems extraordinary to me that the current build process for doors and windows involves installing a durable and maintenance-free uPVC cavity closer and then hiding it behind a painted softwood door or window frame.
‘So the weather resistant uPVC is hidden but the weather susceptible painted wood is exposed. It’s absurd.
‘Why on earth are they making homeowners use troublesome softwood frames when trouble-free uPVC ones could be made to a Duchy-approved design that would be low maintenance, energy efficient and recyclable and able to replicate the finish of painted wood.
‘When you’re a foot away you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
‘I find it ludicrous that they say we can’t have uPVC when they are using it like there’s no tomorrow.
‘The Duchy’s acceptance of modern materials seems to depend on how visible they are. If the materials are pretty much out-of-sight then they are tolerated.
‘I’m not against the concept of Poundbury, I signed the covenant and absolutely accept that many of the points are for our own good, but this one impractical rule is just stupid.’
Poundbury, in Dorset, was first conceived of by the then Prince of Wales in the 1980s as a traditionalist answer to what he saw as a string of poor-quality housing developments being built across Britain.
It is an urban extension to the county town of Dorchester, built on Duchy of Cornwall land according to architectural principles advocated by the King, such as prioritising sustainability.
Building work at Poundbury began in October 1993 and to date, there are approximately 2,300 homes which house almost 5,000 people.
Thirty-five per cent of the homes being built in the development are affordable housing.
New builds in Poundbury. Mr Moorby, a retired nuclear engineer, says the counter-productive rule is making the King’s model town look prematurely shabby
It is set to be completed in around 2028 and is estimated to increase Dorchester’s population by approximately 25 per cent.
The scheme was initially derided by some who accused the then Prince of Wales of building his own feudal version of Disneyland.
A spokesman for the Duchy said: ‘At a time of climate emergency, using natural sustainable materials rather than manufactured and processed products is a base principle which should be upheld.
‘The Duchy appreciates that specific uPVC products can now demonstrate less damaging environmental credentials than their forebears, but it remains a material with significant embodied carbon.
‘On this basis, the original specification of timber remains as justifiable today as it did 30 years ago, accepting that the manufacture and maintenance of timber windows naturally involves an element of carbon debt.’
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