Old Farmhouse, Maidstone
Engaging a professional heritage consultant before undertaking works to historic buildings will provide clarity on the features of a building that are historically significant and why.
AB Heritage was requested to complete a Heritage Statement covering a proposed extension and renovation works to The Old Farmhouse, Maidstone.
Proposed works were to include removal of a modern conservatory and remodelling of the back of the house to create a slightly enlarged, modern kitchen. The majority of the casement windows which were single-paned timber, with limited heritage value were to be replaced with slim-lined double-glazed timber replacements and all external timber doors were to be replaced.
Further direction from the Local Planning Officer, was to ensure the proposals didn’t adversely impact on the setting of the Conservation Area in which the farmhouse was located. However, due to the location of the farmhouse and nature of screening planting, this aspect was quickly resolved as not of concern.
Historically Significant Planform
A site visit was undertaken together with desk-based research. The Old Farmhouse is a Listed Building and example of a typical Wealden house, with an original timber core found to be of the 16th and 17th century. This core, the original fireplaces and the farmhouse’s largely intact planform provided the main historic significance, which the later 18th and 19th century additions and its location in the Conservation Area supported.
On reviewing the design plans, our Heritage Consultant concluded that the main historic timber core would not be impacted by the design proposals. There was a degree of remodelling that would remove some elements of the 18th and 19th century extensions but these were considered to have only a minor adverse impact. The removal of a poor quality, modern glass conservatory was believed to be a positive benefit of the scheme. AB Heritage’s recommendations were that works could be permitted with the use of high-quality design, materials and finishes in line with the Local Planning Authorities guidance.
Turning to the windows of The Old Farmhouse. These were found to be in generally poor repair. All needed to be removed and replaced, apart from a single window which was to be repaired and refurbished being 19th Century in date and the only example of its kind in the farmhouse. The main heritage value of the windows lay in their dimensions, style and layout within the building. AB Heritage therefore recommended that all replacement windows should be high quality and replicate the existing form. The addition of double glazing was seen as a minor adverse impact that was justified through the improved condition and energy efficiency gained.
Engaging a professional heritage consultancy before undertaking works to historic buildings will provide clarity on the features of a building that are historically significant and why. Non-material elements, such as a building’s historic uses, its setting, and social context may not be immediately obvious, but could play an important role in its heritage significance.
Fabric of the historic buildings would be improved and protected
For our client, we were able to demonstrate that the critical core of the farmhouse would not be impacted by the sensitive proposals to create an updated house suitable for modern family life, and the fabric of the building would be improved by the renovations adding to its lifespan.