Conservation – Protected Structures

Grants for Conservation of Protected Structures

Funding is available in 2017 to assist owners of historic properties, under the Structures at Risk Fund and Built Heritage Investment Scheme. The closing date for both schemes was noon on 28th February 2017. Detail of funding allocated in 2017 is here.

Further funding may be available for 2018, and details will be announced here and in local press as soon as they are available.


Structures at Risk Fund 2017

This scheme is for works to help safeguard threatened Protected Structures (or buildings within Architectural Conservation Areas). Only structures in immediate danger of significant deterioration will be considered for funding. Each local authority has been limited to two applications for submission to the Department for consideration. A third may be submitted if it addresses a House covered by the Action Plan for the Sustainable Future of the Irish Historic House (DAHRRGA, 2015).


Built Heritage Investment Scheme 2017

The objective of this scheme is to assist with the ongoing repair and conservation of historic properties and to support the employment of skilled conservation professionals, craftworkers and tradespeople. To be eligible, structures must either be included on the Laois Record of Protected Structures or within an Architectural Conservation Areas (ACA). Funding will be at 50% of the capital cost, with a minimum grant of €2,500 and a maximum of €10,000. Matching funding for each project from the private sector will be required at a rate of 50%. Details of jobs created or supported through the operation of the scheme will also be required.


Part of the spire of Old Abbey Leix Estate church, during conservation funded through the Structures at Risk Fund in 2016


Why Protect our Architectural Heritage?

Our architectural heritage is a unique and exceptional resource. Structures and places that have acquired character and special interest over time have cultural significance in a changing world. All of their parts have been tested by our climate, and those that have survived the process of decay, and the interventions of their users, have acquired economic, environmental and aesthetic value.

We enjoy the fruits of this inheritance, and we have a duty to ensure that it is conserved, sympathetically reused, and passed onto our successors with its value intact.


What is a Protected Structure?

A Protected Structures is a building designated by Laois County Council because of its special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest. Laois County Council is required to compile and maintain a Record of Protected Structures for its functional area.

A Record of Protected Structures is a mechanism available for the statutory protection of the architectural heritage.  The Planning Authority must include in the Record every structure, which, in its opinion is of special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest. The Record of Protected Structures forms part of the Laois County Development Plan 2011 – 2017.

A Planning Authority may add a new record to or delete a structure from its Record of Protected Structure during the review of its Development Plan or at any other time, by following different prescribed procedures.  The making of an addition to or deletion from the Record is a function that is reserved to the Elected Members.


Which buildings in Laois are protected?

The Record of Protected Structures (available below) lists all structures that have been passed up to the date of the adoption of the Laois County Development Plan 2011 – 2017

Laois Record of Protected Structures 2011-2017.


What parts of a protected structure must be preserved?

The terms “structure” is defined by Section 2 of the 2000 Act to mean “any building, structure, excavation or other thing constructed, or made on, in or under any land, or any part of a structure so defined, and where the context so admits, includes the land on, in, or under with the structure is situate”.

A “Protected Structure” is defined as any structure or specified part of a structure, inside or outside, which is included in the Record of Protected Structures.


How does a structure become a protected structure?

Local Authorities must follow certain procedures if it is proposed to deem a structure to be a protected structure. This involves notifying the owners and occupiers of the structure, the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional and Gaeltacht Affairs, and other bodies of the proposal.

An owner or occupier is entitled to make comments on such a proposal to the Planning Authority. These comments are taken into account before the Authority’s Elected Members decide whether or not the structure should become a Protected Structure.


Church of St Michael and All Angels Abbeyleix, 1872

Church of St Michael and All Angels Abbeyleix, 1872

What are the obligations on owners and occupiers?

Each owner and occupier must ensure that a protected structure or any element of a protected structure is not endangered through harm, decay or damage, whether over a short or long period, through neglect or through direct or indirect means.


Altering a Protected Structure

Section 57 Declarations

Owners or occupiers of a Protected Structure may request a ‘declaration’ under Section 57 of the Act.  The purpose of this declaration is for Planning Authorities to clarify in writing the kind of works that would or would not materially affect the character of the structure or any element of the structure which contributes to its special interest.

The issuing of a declaration is a service that the Planning Authority provides at no cost to the owner or occupant of a protected structure. The Planning Authority has twelve weeks from the receipt of a request for a Section 57 to have it completed.


Penalties for failing to meet obligations:

Owners and occupiers could be fined up to €1 million and €10,000 for each day of a continuing offence and/or a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years can be imposed on an owner or an occupier for –

  • endangering a protected structure, or
  • failing to carry out works, ordered by a Local Authority, to a protected structure or a structure in an architectural conservation area.