opinions of Ventrolla sash window renovators?


We have wooden sash windows which are protected by Conservation area planning restrictions. They are all completely stuck shut with generations of gloss paint (so quite well draught-proofed!), but also starting to rot.
We have had a quote for renovations from Ventrolla which won't upset the local planning dept. Has anyone used this company and can give an honest opinion about them?
Also, has anyone successfully challenged such planning restrictions on environmental and energy efficiency grounds? It seems unfair that when we are being told to cut energy and make our homes energy-efficient (tax incentives/penalties have been mentioned) that the only acceptable replacement for a single glazed sliding sash window the size of a tennis court, is a single glazed sash window the size of a tennis court. A neighbour is about to be forced to remove the double glazing from an enormous bay window, which will restore their front room to its original Edwardian state (i.e. heated by coal from the inexhaustable local colliery).
Duncan
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Duncan.
I am also in a conservation area and have been told I can't replace my sash windows with plastic. However I am not sure that you can't replace them with wood and with double glazed frames that look like sashes. There are all sorts of windows, modern draught proofing, and sash rope replacements with springs etc. I don't see why the local authority should care as long as the windows look original from the street. I have just refurbished one large double sash on my Edwardian house with new home made double glazed (With Pilkington E ), wooden sashes exacly matching the originals. I have fitted spring balances instead of sash cords and weights, and modern hidden sealing strips for sash windows. They look and work great. The actual window carcass was pretty sound with only minor rot. I cleaned them up and filled with various so called anti rot compounds. Just another ten to do! I decided after going to my local authority recommended joiner, that they were a load of rubbish. Wanted a lot of money for doing nothing. One of them didn't want to come and give me a quote just suggested I should take the windows to him for sizing. I did find one small joinery firm who were willing to make new double glazed sash frames only for 79 each. The wood costs for mine were 5 each and 30 for each DG window pane. I'm no expert woodworker, and it isn't that hard to do.
Dave

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No, believe it or not it's Sunderland.
My contribution to Glasgow's conservation heritage was to restore storm-doors, and a ceiling rose, and the wood-panelled bathroom we unearthed from behind hardboard.
The renovation by Ventrolla is expensive but OTOH there is a saving as no planning application would be needed.
Duncan
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