Restoring a Listed, Heritage or Conservation Property?

What you need to know when choosing a rainwater system.

Britannia Cast Iron Rainwater System at St Michaels All Angels Church - ARP Moulded Ogee Gutters and Rectangular Downpipes
Legacy Cast Aluminium Beaded Deepflow Gutter and Colonnade Cast Collared Downpipes Glenshee 1
Oakdale, Harrogage, Sentinel Vintage Ogee and Colonnade Cast Collared Downpipes 4

Renovating a heritage, listed or period property is always beset with challenges, problems often crawling out of the woodwork.

The best advice before beginning such a project is to obtain listed building consent from your local planning authority.

Each local authority works to its own standards pertaining to the listed, conservation and heritage properties within their area. We suggest you liaise with them at the beginning of your renovation to avoid any undue surprises.

Working with your local authority and developing a relationship with them will help you to understand what they expect and enable you to adhere to their standards.

When it comes to renewing or replacing your rainwater system, then the choices that you face are considerable. Colour, material choice, profile, sizes, life expectancy, cost, etc.

However, before you consider these choices, you need to know about the weather conditions in your area.


Rainfall Intensity
Rainfall intesity - Heritage property refurbishment

The effects of global warming and a warmer climate in the UK have led to higher rainfall intensity in some areas.

Your rainwater supplier should be able to perform a flow calculation based on your roof type, size, pitch, geographic location, and size and position of rainwater pipes to enable you to choose the right gutter size and profile to suit your needs.

Conversely, the UK has also seen an increase in snowfall during winter months, and if you are based in an area prone to snowfall, you need to factor this aspect into your choice of rainwater system.  The weight of the snow on the roof, which may then slide down the roof into the gutter, could damage your guttering if not placed correctly.

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Material Choice for Heritage Property

As with any property, one of the considerations when choosing a rainwater system is the choice of materials on offer.

Ranging from uPVC to metal systems, there is a huge choice on the market today. Decisions may be made on aesthetics, cost or the material’s sustainability, or perhaps a combination of all aspects.


Plastic or uPVC is not going to be an option when choosing a new rainwater system for your listed, heritage or conservation property. A cheap and lightweight system, readily available from builders merchants, is not going to give the look and style of a metal rainwater system and will certainly not provide the longevity a metal system will offer. In addition, with the negativity surrounding plastic pollution, you are much more likely to choose a material that is already freely recycled, such as cast iron or aluminium.

Cast Iron

Cast iron systems are made for the heritage market and are sand cast using traditional cast iron dies and comply with all listed building, heritage and conservation requirements. Proven to last for over 100 years, cast iron gutters and downpipes are ideal for period buildings.

Our Britannia cast iron rainwater products can be delivered transit primed or with a factory-applied wet paint finish in a semi-gloss black or specific colour on request.

If you have your cast iron pre-painted, it saves time on site, but because of the application process: four-stage cleaning process; zinc primed, painted and oven cured. Only when the product has been dried for 24 hours can it be despatched, giving the finished product a far superior and quicker process than being painted on site.

The Iron Bridge

In 1781 the first bridge made from cast iron was opened; it crosses the River Severn in Shropshire and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Source: English Heritage


Cast aluminium rainwater products consist of gutters, downpipes and hoppers, which are traditionally sand cast from an aluminium alloy to mimic cast iron.

The advantages aluminium guttering has over cast iron, however, is that they are lightweight, easy to install, non-corrosive, made from marine grade aluminium and require minimal maintenance.

Statue of ErosA cast aluminium statue of Eros was erected in London’s Piccadilly Circus in 1893. Despite having to be stored away during the two world wars, it is still in situ today. (Source: European Aluminium Association Sustainability of Aluminium in Buildings –

Our aluminium products can be polyester powder coated to any RAL/BS colour of your choice, giving you a much wider range of colour choices than traditional cast iron or uPVC, not only enhancing the final look but also providing protection against the weather and presenting a very low maintenance option to cast iron.

Our in-house PPC line has seven stages; the most important is the pre-treatment stage before the coating is applied.

With extruded aluminium, we can apply a textured paint to give the full visual effect and aesthetics of cast iron, but without the associated weight and planned maintenance programme.

With cast aluminium and cast iron, you can be assured that the quality and aesthetics of the finish will be the perfect accompaniment to your roof and enable you to adhere to strict planning guidelines for heritage, listed or conservation properties.

Sustainable Options for Heritage Buildings

These days sustainability is the buzzword, and when choosing materials for your listed property, you want something that will last for as long as possible.

Aside from the monetary investment, you may consider the recycled content in the product, the product’s life expectancy, the level of maintenance required and its recyclability at the end of its useful life. Metal systems adequately cover all these factors, but plastic currently poses a substantial negative due to the publicity surrounding the amount of plastic now in our oceans and seas.

Read more below

Material Choice Comparison Chart

A quick reference guide to the benefits of metal rainwater systems versus uPVC.

Cast AluminiumCast IronUPVC
WeightLightweight and easy to installVery heavy, two person installation requiredLighweight and easy to install
MaintenanceMinimalRegular repaintingMinimal
CorrosionNon-corrosive propertiesWill rust over time if not properly maintainedJoints leak due to thermal movement over the lengths of the gutter
Life Expectancy60+ years100+ years25-30 Years

Regardless of the style of your listed/heritage property, ARP has an extensive range of cast iron and cast aluminium profiles available.

Our technical team can help you make your decision on the right material, the correct size and the profile to suit your design.

Once you have the relevant information on the scope of your renovation and local planning requirements, call us on 0116 289 4400 to discuss the rainwater package for your listed, heritage or conservation property.


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