Thatch Advice Centre Newsletter July 2015

Hello Everyone.

Holidays are upon us but it is also a busy time for thatching, harvesting straw (pic below) and general maintenance work on roofs and chimneys.

Our Thatch Directory is populating nicely, and we have been so busy with enquiries to the Thatch Advice Centre, thatchers with interesting stories, homeowners needing advice, and surveyors with questions, all welcome. The thatch property market seems to be moving, Magma Firestop fire retardant sprayers report being busy due to perfect weather (until last week!) and we have been updating the website with some new pages for you.

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In this Newsletter:

Click on the title to show the details.

Listed Thatch - Cautionary Tale

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The Thatch Advice Centre wants thatch, as a sustainable product, to remain as a fabulous roofing material well into the future. To that end it also needs to continue to be used as part of the maintenance of our old listed buildings. Our heritage, and the character and preservation of our old thatched properties are part of that maintenance.

Two recent events have brought to our attention the fact that not all people are understanding that there are powers to enforce this.

A Grade II listed thatched property in a conservation area in Wiltshire was thatched in Combed Wheat Reed (which prior to listing in 1987 was thatched in longstraw) and the owner was appealing for listed building consent to allow them to strip back the top coat and change it to Water Reed. The National Society of Master Thatchers were backing this appeal against the council decision, and English Heritage and The Conservation of Traditional Thatch Group (CoTTG). Although arguments on longevity still abound it was an obvious case where it was felt the material change affected the property too much.

See the full report ‘Change of Material Appeal Decision April 2015’

Perhaps the days of changes to the thatching material used on Listed Buildings are numbered. Perhaps it is rightly so. What to do think?

What if changes are actually made to a property with no consent?
What if it is demolished without permission?

Historic England were considering a recommendation of listing of Grade II for a historic London pub (not thatched), but it was demolished without permission. An unprecedented enforcement notice to the firm that owns the Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale required them to “recreate in facsimile the building as it stood immediately prior to its demolition”.

The answer appears to be….. you will have to rebuild it as it was.
The general consensus on this one is… rightly so.

The cautionary tale is therefore..

Listing is there for a reason, to preserve our heritage.
Make sure you have consent for what you do and do not apply for permission to change something which affects the property too much because your application, or even appeal, will not be approved/upheld.

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The Thatch Directory update

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Help us to help you

Our specialist Thatch Directory numbers are growing steadily.  If you:-

  • are a skilled supplier of goods/services for thatched properties
    Register and join us
  • can recommend someone who has provided you with an excellent service – Please get in touch:
    Email    [email protected]
    or call   023 8042 8058

Full list of Phase I categories at the foot of this newsletter.

Promotional Code

Enter X4W35T when placing your advert 
To receive an extra 6 months advertising free

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Planning Point

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The Coalition relaxed the rules in 2012 for 3 years to let home-owners add space to their properties eg. extensions. This was so long as their neighbours don’t object. We understand that these timescales may now be further extended.

NB These changes don’t apply to listed buildings in protected areas where there are strict controls on development.

To make sure you are eligible. Please check the government website for details (England).

So if you are contemplating ‘improve not move’, now’s good.

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New at the Thatch Advice Centre

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We have been working hard at the Thatch Advice Centre on top of our other jobs.  Not only have we added new pages to the website, dealt with a surprising number of interesting enquiries and been promoting the Thatch Directory but we have also been regularly updating our FB page.

New website pages are:-

Hips and Barges
Eaves
Valleys
Porches
Catslides
Aprons

We have also amended/ updated several other pages, including maintenance and alarms with more planned.

The Articles section, includes updates on alarms for landlords and also monthly updates of our lovely Thatch Thursdays.

See below one of our popular pictures posted on FB.

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Sweeping your Chimney

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Now is also an excellent time to get your chimney swept, especially as we all know that chimney fires are a major risk factor for the thatched property owner.  Not only that, most insurers require this to be done by a recognised chimney sweep.

We mentioned in our article on the website that the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps were holding Thatch Chimney sweeping courses recently.  This is great news and also means that understanding of thatch fires and the message about the importance of a clean chimney is getting out there.  We are hoping to have an update from them shortly on how it went and will keep you informed.

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Thatch Thursdays

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Thatch Thursday is regular, useful snippets of information on thatch.  We have put them up every Thursday on Facebook and have just started to promote them on Twitter too .

Grouping them by month as articles on the website means that, if you don’t do social media, you don’t miss out.

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Question Time: Sky Lanterns?

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The Anti Sky Lantern campaign grows stronger, we have shared information from the NFU and now we would like to quote some words from Cheshire East Council’s recent media release

“Cheshire East Council has ramped up its crackdown on ‘sky lanterns’ and is to ban them from all licenced events in the Borough

The Chief Fire Officers Association called for an urgent review on their use following a huge fire in Smethwick, West Midlands, in 2013, which took 200 firefighters and 39 fire appliances to control and extinguish.  Video footage showed a sky lantern was the cause.

Spain, Malta and Austria have already banned the use of sky lanterns”

Click here for whole article

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Specialist Spotlight

Heritage Cob and Lime
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Heritage Cob and Lime were our first advertisers on the Thatch Directory.  They have a wealth of knowledge and experience and when we told them about the Thatch Directory they created their advert that same day.

Since then they have told us about courses they run, their regular magazine and the specialist products they provide.

So if you have a thatched property constructed of cob or ever need some lime mortar get in touch with them, they are friendly helpful and know their stuff.

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Need help with Health & Safety?

The words Health and Safety are often used flippantly but at the Thatch Advice Centre we know how important it is and how it can affect your business and lives.

We are thinking about co-ordinating some training events covering things like Health and Safety, Risk Assessments, First Aid.  The aim is to offer cost effective and relevant training, probably over the winter months.  If you are thatchers, tree surgeons, scaffolders etc. you all have something in common so why not share some training and gain an IOSH certification.

First Aid is relevant to everyone.

If you or a group or association you know may be interested just get in touch with any ideas and we can progress from there.  At this stage we are just putting out feelers but it’s open to everyone.

Send your name and contact details FAO Felicity to:-

[email protected].  There is no obligation at all, just an initial chat to see if we could take this idea forward.

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Wool Staplers - An Insight

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Our thanks go to Jan Jachnick for an interesting insight into the inside of their thatched home Staplers, in Stickepath which reputed to have been built in 1550 but must have been rebuilt in the early 17th century, possibly due to a fire.  They are only in half of the original building which was divided some time in the 19th century.  The loft was a large space used by the wool staplers for drying wool in preparation  for it going to the serge mill just up the road.  The beams are regularly studded with tenterhooks from which the wool was strung up to dry.

Sympathetically converted for use as an office,  (apparently it took about 30 years to get around to it), the loft has been left with the thatch, beams and original features.  Thank you for the pictures and the background on this lovely old thatched property.  We are sorry we do not have space for more of the pictures but will put it on our list for adding a page to the website.

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Clarification - Do not confuse us with..

We are nothing to do with Thatching Advisory Services Limited.

The Thatch Advice Centre

The Thatch Advice Centre is what it says it is, administered by people with years of experience and knowledge of thatch and thatching, who are passionate about giving free up to date advice on ‘all things thatch’ for its promotion as sustainable into the future.

We write our own material, do not sell products and carefully research and inform. Our aim is to promote best practice and give the best advice with assistance from our a network of contacts and professionals so that our visitors can make their own informed decision on which products and services they choose. We love thatch.

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Thatch Directory Categories

Thatch Directory Categories – Phase I

Our site has one clear list of categories so it is easy to find help.  We are looking for proven services to join us.  References are required.

·  Architects
·  Builders
·  Building Surveyors
·  Chimney & Flue Specialists
·  Chimney Sweeps
·  Electrical Engineers
·  Fire Safety Products & Supplies
·  Garden Buildings
·  Health and Safety
·  Insurance
·  Leadworkers
·  Master Thatchers
·  Organisations/Publications
·  Preservation & Pest Control
·  Quantity Surveyors
·  Reed & Straw Dealers
·  Scaffolding
·  Security
·  Solicitors
·  Solid Fuel & Heating Supplies
·  Specialist Builders
·  Specialist Building Materials
·  Structural Surveyors
·  Thatched Hospitality
·  Thatching Supplies
·  Timber Framed Builders
·  Tools & Equipment Hire
·  Tree Surgeons

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Our Next Newsletter

Our Next Newsletter :-

Fighting Fires
Thatch Insurance
Newsletter updates
Building Regulation problems
New at the Thatch Advice Centre
Thatch Tale
and more …

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