Orangeries on listed buildings

Orangeries on Listed Buildings

Orangeries on listed buildings

Orangeries on listed buildings will always require listed consent from the local planning authority. Burberry Harris Moon have a wide experience in successfully negotiating listed consent for orangery extensions. Over one third of our projects include buildings with listed status or are in a conservation area.

Am I likely to get listed consent for an orangery on my property?

Few sites are identical and all applications for an orangery extension will be considered on their own merits, which have regard for the particular characteristics of each site. The key is an orangery design that complements, not overwhelms the existing house, uses quality traditional materials and sympathetically matches some of the existing features. With careful considerations, yes, in many cases an orangery extension is possible on a listed building.

What is best, an orangery or a conservatory extension for a listed building?

There is a view that it is more difficult to gain listed consent for an orangery than a conservatory extension to a listed property.

It is certainly true, that an ill-conceived orangery design will be refused listed consent. The current vogue for orangeries means that conservation officers are receiving increasing levels of applications for orangery extensions to listed buildings. Only sympathetic, appropriate designs will gain consent.


What is a suitable orangery design for a listed property?

Unfortunately the term ‘orangery’ is widely misused. Historically, an orangery describes a 17th – 18th Century neo-classical pavilion. A grand, dominant building of architectural form. Such buildings are typically formal in style, with Georgian detailing: Georgian glazing bars, pilasters fluted with capital blocks and a very deep moulded fascia. Such a building may be the perfect addition to a listed house with a grand Georgian facade, but it certainly would not be suitable for a pretty listed cottage.

This does not mean an orangery is unsuitable for many listed properties. The modern day ‘orangery’ is a building with a glazed lantern set into a flat roof, and the design can have many different forms.

For some listed consent applications an orangery is better both designed and described as a garden room with glazed roof, or a ‘conservatory room’, to avoid invoking the vision of a classical structure of grandeur.

An application for a ‘garden room’, with simple detailing, perhaps simple stopped chamfers to posts, no capital blocks, and a simple detailed fascia with external gutter, is likely to be seen in a more favourable light. Particularly so, if the listed building in question, is a rural cottage with informal character.

Unfortunately, many orangery companies have standard detailing for their pilasters, fascia and window designs to suit their manufacturing systems. A listed consent application based on this is ultimately likely to fail.

Orangery design considerations for listed buildings

Size design and form

No extension should dominate the existing house in size or shape. Orangeries should generally be subservient, appearing as if they have a ‘supporting role’ to the existing house.

Plot coverage

The extent that the original plot is taken up by an extension can have an impact upon the character of the area.

Character of the area

The orangery must be appropriate for the area. It should not be overly prominent in the street scene through being too large or of uncharacteristic form. This is of particular concern where an orangery is proposed to the side of a property.

Character of the house

Orangery extensions must be in keeping with the character of the building, and they must not upset the balance of the original design.

An orangery extension should be ‘additive’

Listed buildings may be many hundreds of years old. Owners of listed buildings are in one sense a ‘custodian’ of a building for a short period of its history. A listed property may have been extended or substantially altered in its life, metamorphosing from the initial structure to its current form.

An orangery extension should therefore be an addition to this process. A conservation office may take the view that to be ‘additive’ an orangery extension needs to be designed in a style which is contemporary to the period in which it is added. This may mean using traditional materials used in a contemporary style, or it could mean a wholly modern approach using the latest materials.

Whether a traditional or contemporary solution is sought, the key is that extending a listed property with an orangery must not upset the balance of the design. The use of quality materials is a prerequisite (upvc as a material would not be accepted).

Orangeries on Listed Buildings

Contemporary solution for orangery on a listed building near Guildford, Surrey.


The colour of an orangery extension will be an important contributor to local character and distinctiveness. Do not assume you should match the colour of the windows, especially if these are white. Stand back from the house and consider the dominant colours. For example, a house clad with clay peg tiles and covered with wisteria will have strong natural tones of orange/red, grey and green. For this situation consider darker colours in the green/grey range. The finished orangery in a dark tone will act as a foil for its surroundings and allow the strong house colours to dominate.

Double glazing

Double glazing will normally be allowed on an orangery extension fitted to a listed property. Certainly an orangery without double glazing would not make a very liveable space. Of course, double glazing is unlikely to be allowed for replacement windows in any part of the existing house. For these, specialist solutions will be required, slimlite double glazing for example, which will fit into traditional delicate glazing bar sections.


Listed buildings and building regulations

Orangeries on listed buildings may be exempt from building regulations, the criteria is the same whether listed or not (generally: less than thirty square meters, minimum 75% roof glazing, external quality doors separating the orangery from the house).

Exemptions from part L of the building regulations

Listed buildings may be exempt from the energy efficiency requirements of the building regulations ‘where compliance with the energy efficiency requirements would unacceptably alter their appearance or character’.

In practical terms, this usually means that if replacing windows in a listed property, the new windows will need to match the originals and therefore be made with the same delicate glazing bars and single glazing of the original. (See information on slimlite glazing).

However, most conservation offices will accept double glazing to be included in orangery extensions provided the design is appropriate.

Orangeries may not need to comply with building regulations where a reduced thickness of insulation in the flat roof would allow significant improvement in the visual appearance of the fascia detail.


VAT rules for orangery extensions on listed buildings

New rules for October 2012

Sadly, since the 1st October 2012, all alterations on listed buildings are now charged at the current rate of VAT. This applies to both alterations and repairs.

This a great shame, as owners of listed buildings play an important role in preserving our heritage. Satisfying the requirements of a conservation officer when repairing or altering a listed property always means traditional materials and methods must be used, and these can of course be expensive.