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The following information is taken from the Dorset County Council web site and lists the Codes of Practice of the Thatching Report. The information is therefore most applicable to residents within Dorset but also provides a useful guide to all members of thatched properties. It is important to remember that it is necessary to contact your local authority for legislation relevant to your property. The information sets out the background of measures rather than any precise legislation.


Matters which Require Listed Building Consent

The following matters require consent:

The change from one thatch material to another. Long straw, combed wheat reed, water reed, sedge and heather are different materials.
Any change in the pattern or form of slopes, ridges, eaves or verges of the roof. This includes the ridge and step technique and any change to dormer windows.

With very few exceptions the following matters will be considered to constitute works which require consent:

The removal of multi-layered thatch where four or more layers are to be removed;
The removal of pole rafters and other structural timber;
The removal of wattle-work;
The removal of smoke blackened thatch.

Guidelines for determining listed building consent
applications for thatch work

Changes of material

Existing thatched roofs shall be re-thatched rather than replaced in other materials.
Thatched roofs made of combed wheat and long straw shall normally be re-thatched in similar materials, not water reed.
Except in localised areas where there is a tradition of the use of water reed, replacement of water reed by long straw or combed wheat reed will be encouraged.
When thatching becomes necessary to buildings that are linked or to buildings that form a clearly defined group, the traditional materials and thatching style will be encouraged on each unit in order to achieve a traditional and coherent appearance to the whole group.

Shortage of material

Where a shortage of thatching material occurs the use of an alternative may be sanctioned subject to the following provisions:

That the material is not obtainable within reasonable time i.e. greater than 6 months to harvest from the start date for work on site; independent proof is provided of the shortage in the form of a letter from the Rural Development Commission thatching advisor; the local authority agrees that change will not be detrimental to the long term preservation of the roof; the thatcher agrees to match the style of the existing roof; he should provide photographic evidence of this. Where the work is not matched the local authority may require the work to be redone. The legal power to compel correct work can be exercised through a listed building enforcement notice.

Ridges and Decorative features

The replacement of flush ridges with block ridges will be resisted.
Flush ridges will be encouraged.
Replacement ridges should be kept as simple as possible.
Where block ridges are to be replaced they should be no deeper than 4 inches.
Under normal circumstances “points” will only be accepted where there is evidence of them on the building before re-thatching.
The introduction of decorative features will be discouraged.

Roof Structure

Rethatching in progress

The aim is to preserve as much of the historic fabric as possible and to avoid unnecessary disturbance to the original thatch. If possible the roof should be repaired in situ on a like for like basis; new parts or even whole timbers being scarfed or flitched into position. Where this is not possible it is desirable to augment the structural support. In certain cases this may be limited to propping or for steel straps to provide bracing. Alternatively a separate structure may be necessary besides the old one. Only in exceptional circumstances will removal and replacement with an alternative structure be accepted.
Wholesale replacement and removal of pole rafters needs to be fully justified. In a listed building consent application for wholesale removal clear evidence will be needed for replacement to be justified. In such cases Local Authorities will encourage like for like building.
Shape and Profile
The aim is to preserve traditional local styles of thatching. Shape and profile are particularly important elements of this. Therefore the external shape and profile of the roof should be preserved.


Stripping


Substantial stripping of thatch will only be allowed where there is no alternative. If that is required justification must be provided and arrangements must be made for recording.

Guidelines for the submission of applications for consent for thatch work.

An application for consent should contain details of the existing roof and of the proposed works in the following form:

A written description of the existing roof containing notes of what the existing materials are and how many layers there are. The ridge, eaves and verge pattern and profiles and treatment of fillets, flashings and any decorative details should be described, especially where these details are to be changed. It is also important to describe whether any particular features survive such as wattle-work, or smoke blackened thatch, or pole rafters. If the building is part of a group then the description should also contain a description of the traditional material and style of the group. Photographs, minimum 5” x 7” but not Polaroids, of all relevant aspects, both detailed and general of the building and the roof. A detailed specification of the work including descriptions of the amount of existing thatch which is to be removed, the thatching material to be used, ridge, eaves and verge patterns and profiles and the treatment of fillets, flashing and any decorative details. Some of this information can be given by photographs of equivalent work. Where changes to the roof structure are proposed, drawings of the existing and the new roof structure and/or repairs with, in certain cases, a structural engineers report to justify the replacement.

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