Conservation – Protected Structures

Grants for Conservation of Protected Structures

Then Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, announced (28th November 2017) that the very successful Built Heritage Investment Scheme and Structures at Risk Fund will operate again in 2018. The two schemes will provide a €3.3 million in investment in 2018 for the repair and conservation of protected structures. These schemes supported more than 500 projects across the country in 2017 and helped to provide employment in the conservation and construction industries.

Well-maintained historic buildings contribute positively to the vitality of our cities, towns, villages and countryside. Local communities have a great sense of pride in their built heritage, which in turn can help to provide an important source of local employment by boosting tourism.

Both schemes will operate on the same model as the 2017 schemes, which were a great success, funding over 500 projects across every local authority area in the country. They will help to regenerate urban and rural areas, and will come as a welcome boost to the custodians of heritage properties.

Scheme documents for 2018 are below.

House on the Square, Durrow, conserved with funding from the Built Heritage Investment Scheme in 2017

House on the Square, Durrow, conserved with funding from the Built Heritage Investment Scheme in 2017


Built Heritage Investment Scheme

All works carried out under the BHIS must be capital works. Full details of all requirements are in the Circular BHIS 18/1.

The BHIS will operate in 2018 with funding available to the amount of €2,000,000 nationally. The amount available to Laois County Council is €50,000.

The total funding available for each individual project cannot exceed 50% of the total project cost. The minimum funding available under the BHIS will be €2,500 up to a maximum grant of €15,000.

The closing date for receipt of completed applications is 31st January 2018.

Full Scheme Terms and Conditions: BHIS 2018 Circular November 2017

Application Form (pdf format): BHIS 2018 Appendix II – Application Form A

Application Form (MS Word format): BHIS 2018 Appendix II – Application Form A

Details of works which qualify for funding: BHIS 2018 Appendix I – Qualifying and Non Qualifying Works

Scheme Documents in Irish

Aguisín I – Oibreacha Cáilitheacha agus Neamhcháilitheacha

Ciorclán an SIOT 18/01 Aguisín II – Foirm Iarratais A

An Scéim Infheistíochta san Oidhreacht Thógtha 2018 CIORCLÁN TREORACH

Structures at Risk Fund

All works carried out under the SRF must be capital works. Only structures or parts of structures in immediate danger of significant deterioration will qualify for consideration for funding.

The SRF will operate in 2018 with funding available to the amount of €1,324,000; €74,000 of which will be allocated for funding towards the type of house covered by An Action Plan for the Sustainable Future of the Irish Historic House, launched in 2015.

Due to the limited resources available for the operation of the scheme in 2018, DCHG will consider four applications per local authority, only one of which may be a publicly-owned building. A fifth application may be made if it relates to an Irish Historic House in private ownership.

The total funding available for each individual project shall not exceed 80% of the total project cost. The minimum funding available under the SRF will be €15,000 up to a maximum grant of €30,000. The minimum funding available for a fifth project in respect of a historic house in private ownership will be €5,000 up to a maximum of €10,000. The closing date for applications is 31st January 2018.

Full Scheme Terms and Conditions: 1. Circular SRF 2018 – FINAL

Application Form (pdf format): SRF Application Form A (pdf)

Application Form (MS Word format): SRF Application Form A (Word)

All applicants for the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and the Structures at Risk Fund must work with a suitably qualified conservation professional (conservation architect, engineer or related discipline) in the planning and implmentation of conservation works. See below “Sources of Advice” for details on how to source professionals.

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

Sources of Advice

Owners or managers of Protected Structures should seek advice from qualified professionals in planning work to a Protected Structure. Depending on the building type, importance, condition and scale of works, this may be a conservation architect, conservation engineer or other professional.

Several registers of professionals exist:

The Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland has a Directory of Registered Architects, with details of conservation accreditation.  To assist Consumers in the selection of a Practice to provide them with professional services in architectural conservation, the RIAI developed an accreditation system to recognise differing levels of specialist expertise. There are three Grades of Accreditation, Grade 1 being the highest and Grade 3 the basic entry level to the System. Full details and a description of the types of work carried out by each grade are at the RIAI Website.

The Conservation Accreditation Register for Engineers (CARE) has been established jointly by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the Institution of Structural Engineers(IStructE) to identify engineers skilled in the conservation of historical structures and sites. This is a UK accreditation but through an arrangement with Engineers Ireland, Irish practices can also join the CARE list. A full listing of CARE members operating in Ireland and the United Kingdom can be found here

In adddition, there is a list of Conservation Consultants on the Irish Georgian Society website.

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.