Works to a heritage asset to address climate change

14.27 The Council is committed to tackling climate change and reducing the carbon emissions of Thanet. At the same time, the Council is committed to conserving the historic environment, particularly preserving and enhancing the character and appearance of its heritage assets. The Council's aim, therefore, is to ensure a balanced approach between protecting the heritage assets of Thanet and ensuring that they contribute to tackling climate change and reducing the carbon emissions of the district.Such measures could include seeking to encourage and enable the sensitive retrofitting of energy efficiency measures and the appropriate use of micro-renewables in historic buildings (including listed buildings) and conservation areas, whilst safeguarding the special characteristics of these heritage assets for the future.

14.28 The Council has been involved in a joint initiative with the Kent School of Architecture to consider the impact of climate change and energy efficiency on the historic environment. It secured funding from the Technology Strategy Board for a project that looked at how Victorian Seaside houses would perform environmentally in the climate of the year 2080. A building on Dalby Square was chosen as a test bed. The Council worked with Kent School of Architecture who found that terraced Victorian houses can perform environmentally better than some modern dwellings. The findings of this ground breaking study will be published by the Kent School of Architecture as a Climate Change Toolkit for Victorian houses. Further advice on the adaptation of the historic environment in response to climate change issues can be found in the Historic England (formerly English Heritage) publication: Climate Change and the Historic Environment (2008). Adaptive re-use of a building gives significant carbon savings in terms of embodied energy in the fabric of the building, so the focus will be on enhancing the performance of traditional buildings as much as practicable without damaging their significance. Minimal intervention will be required, along with assurance that the works do not harm the building's integrity or significance.

14.29 Planning applications will need to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the building in question via the submission of the following information:

  • surveys of existing construction, to include walls, floors, ceilings and roofs;
  • submission of baseline energy consumption data before and after improvements have taken place;
  • measured data of existing environmental performance of the building's fabric;
  • an indication of any national performance standards being targeted as a result of works; and
  • recommendations on the environmental performance measures to be implemented in order to achieve the standard.

14.30 Prior to looking at alternative means of generating energy, it is important to investigate and put into practice all possible means of conserving energy (hierarchical approach). The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers' guidance on Building Services in Historic Buildings sets out four principal aims when seeking to enhance the sustainability of heritage assets:

  • Preserve historic fabric;
  • Extend the beneficial use of older buildings;
  • Reduce carbon emissions, using the hierarchical approach; and
  • Specify environmentally conscious materials.

Policy HE05 - Works to a Heritage Asset to Address Climate Change

Proposals to enhance the environmental performance of heritage assets will be supported where a sensitive and hierarchical approach to design and specification ensures that the significance of the asset is not compromised by inappropriate interventions.

Any works should be undertaken based on a thorough understanding of the building's performance.