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Brick cleaning: a memo to Owners and Leaseholders

The Executive Committee of the Estate Management Scheme (EMS) is very concerned over instances where the brick facades of individual terrace houses on the Estates have been cleaned, without consultation, in the course of carrying out external redecoration.

The EMS recognises that the Estates were conceived as a series of formal squares and terraces, each of a unified design. So, if an individual house is made to stands out, for instance by cleaning its façade, this architectural unity is destroyed.

Although not specifically mentioned in the EMS documents, the Executive Committee takes the view that cleaning the original brick façade is an alteration to the appearance of the building requiring the consent of the Landlord under the terms of the EMS by way of a License to Alter.

Furthermore, the Council's planning department has confirmed that Listed Building consent would normally be required for cleaning the brick facade to a Listed Building in a Conservation Area of the importance of this one. On at least one occasion, it has taken Enforcement Action in order to compel the Owner of a house in the EMS area to restore a cleaned façade to its former appearance.

It should also be born in mind that, apart from the aesthetic damage resulting from cleaning, the process itself can be extremely detrimental to the material condition of the brickwork. Its protective skin may be irretrievably broken down and the mortar eroded. Remedial work is expensive and never entirely successful.

Susan Walker Architects 14/03/02 revised 16/02/05