Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Unit
Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Unit – Functions and Services
- Providing an administrative, policy and legislative framework to protect architectural heritage as a national resource.
- Promoting increased public awareness and appreciation of architecture and our national built heritage.
- Ensuring that our built heritage is conserved, managed and planned for effective, sustainable management of our heritage resources.
- Promoting best practice in modern architecture and urban design.
Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Unit – Accessing our Services
The Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Section delivers various schemes and services, which are outlined below. More detailed information with respect to the schemes can be obtained at https://www.chg.gov.ie/heritage/built-heritage/
a. Built Heritage Capital Programme
The funding allocation for this programme supports conservation of Ireland’s built heritage and in particular is intended to achieve the following:
- Provide funding and support for structures protected (public and private) under the Planning and Development Acts 2000, as amended, and to provide schemes for those structures which are considered in immediate danger of significant deterioration.
- Fund a programme of conservation works and visitor facility upgrades for heritage sites, including national monuments in State care and of heritage significance. Details of such properties are available on the website heritageireland.ie.
b. Architectural Heritage Advice
The Architectural Heritage Advisory Unit (AHAU) within the Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Section provides services principally to planning authorities. The AHAU:
- Provides advice on architectural conservation matters to other government departments and agencies, to developers, building owners and their advisers;
- Discharges the functions of the Minister as a prescribed body under the Planning Acts in relation to development plans and development proposals impacting upon the architectural heritage;
- Responds to notices received under the National Monuments Acts regarding proposed works to recorded and national monuments where such monuments form part of the architectural heritage;
- Has responsibility for the statutory guidance document ‘Architectural Heritage Protection Guidelines for Planning Authorities’ issued under Sections 28 and 52 of the Planning and Development Act, This document was originally published in 2004 by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and was republished in electronic format by the Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in 2011 on www.ahg.gov.ie/en/Heritage/BuiltHeritageandArchitecturalPolicy/. Hard copies of the 2004 version are available through the Government Publications Office.
- Has published a conservation advice series of guidance booklets for property owners and their advisers on good practice in building repair and maintenance. Soft copies of these publications are available on the Department’s website and hard copies can be purchased through the Government Publications Office and other bookshops. This advice series continues to be developed and expanded.
c. National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH)
The NIAH identifies, evaluates and records the architectural heritage of Ireland in a systematic and consistent manner so that:
- A source of guidance can be provided for the selection of structures for protection;
- Data can be supplied to local authorities, which can allow them to make informed judgements on the significance of building stock in their functional area;
- Greater knowledge and appreciation of architectural heritage can be fostered; and
- Public awareness of Ireland’s built heritage can be heightened.
Research and survey of structures is carried out throughout the country involving paper research and field studies. Results and assessments are entered into the NIAH database, which is an electronic record accessible on the NIAH website, www.buildingsofireland.ie. With each county survey, the NIAH publishes an illustrated introduction to the architecture of the county. These introductory books are available, (in most cases at a cost of €12 each with some older books including CD-ROM of the original NIAH survey charged at €17.99), from the website, www.wordwellbooks.com or from the Government Publications Office. Further data will be added to the website as the survey progresses.
For more information, you can visit the Department’s website, at the link below: www.ahg.gov.ie/en/Heritage/BuiltHeritageandArchitecturalPolicy/NationalInventoryOfArchitecturalHeritage/.
d. Government Policy on Architecture 2009-2015
The Government Policy on Architecture (GPA) 2009-2015: Towards a Sustainable Future: Delivering Quality within the Built Environment provides the appropriate framework for architectural policy up to 2015 and beyond and is led centrally by the Department’s Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Section. The policy places an emphasis on sustainable development of the environment and urban design, incorporates architectural heritage in a holistic integrated manner, and encourages and supports high quality modern architecture. The policy complements and supports the Government’s wider economic strategy within the programme for Government in areas such as built environment research and qualitative place-making. The GPA 2009-2015 is available on the Department’s website, www.ahg.gov.ie/en/Publications/HeritagePublications/ArchitecturalPolicyPublications/#d.en.15694. Hard copies are also available from the Government Publications Office at a cost of €10 each.
e. Determinations under Section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997
Section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 provides for tax relief to the owner/occupier in respect of expenditure on the repair, maintenance or restoration of buildings or gardens, which are determined by the Minister for Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to be intrinsically of significant architectural, historical, horticultural, scientific, or aesthetic interest and where the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that reasonable access is afforded to the public. Fáilte Ireland publicises the opening hours of the approved properties primarily via its website at http://www.failteireland.ie/Information-Centre/Publications and also in an annual illustrated booklet. The public may apply to the Department’s Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Section directly for details and application forms, which can also be found on the Department’s website.
f. National Landscape Strategy
Ireland has signed and ratified the Council of Europe’s European Landscape Convention (ELC), which came into effect on 1 March 2004. The convention obliges Ireland to implement certain types of policy changes and objectives concerning the management and protection of the landscape.
Arising from our ELC commitments, a National Landscape Strategy (NLS) was published and launched in May 2015. The National Landscape Strategy is used to ensure compliance with the European Landscape Convention. The aim of the National Landscape Strategy is to put in place a framework to achieve balance between the management, planning and protection of landscape. The strategy outlines principles and mechanisms for the development of policies, tools and methods at local and national level, involving local authorities, state organisations and civil society, for protecting and enhancing the landscape, positively managing landscape change, and providing the context within which the design of appropriate development can take place.
g. Provision of Support to the Heritage Council
The Heritage Council was established under the Heritage Act, 1995. The Council’s role is to increase awareness and appreciation of heritage nationally, to carry out heritage research, surveys and analysis, to improve heritage infrastructure and promote best practice in conservation and sustainable heritage management. The Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Section provides departmental support to the Heritage Council.
Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Unit – Classes of Records Held
- Records relating to policy, legislative, financial and administrative matters concerning the functions of the Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Section;
- Records containing personal information such as:
- Routine correspondence and representations from individuals regarding heritage and conservation matters;
- Application forms for certain grant and tax relief schemes containing personal details of individuals, groups and organisations, (e.g. names, addresses, contact details, occupations, qualifications, tax details and financial statements;
- Staff records; and records under the Student Placement Scheme;
- Expressions of interest and subsequent recommendations submitted to the Minister regarding board appointments, which may include personal details, qualifications, past work experience and Curriculum Vitae.
Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Unit – Grant or Funding Schemes
Built Heritage Capital Programme:
The Built Heritage Capital Programme provides funding for conservation works to the State’s heritage portfolio and for the operation of the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and the Structures at Risk Fund. This funding assists in preserving and enhancing the architectural heritage and contributes to cultural tourism and employment in the conservation and construction industry.
- Heritage Properties in State Care
Funding is provided to the Office of Public Works (OPW) to assist in the conservation and presentation of the State’s heritage portfolio and to contribute to the attraction of heritage as a cultural tourism resource. The OPW forwards a submission annually to the Department setting out the priority properties (national monuments/historic properties in State care) for conservation. The level of funding is dependent on the Built Heritage Capital allocation for that year and is approved by the Minister for Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. It is a Department stipulation that the funding must be used for conservation rather than maintenance works. The programme and progress of works are reviewed monthly at a Departmental and OPW liaison meeting.
- Built Heritage Investment Scheme
The Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) seeks to encourage the investment of private capital (minimum 50% of matching funding required) in a number of small-scale, labour-intensive projects to repair and conserve historic structures and to support the employment of skilled and experienced conservation professionals, craftworkers and tradespeople. The scheme is targeted at the owners of such properties and is administered by the Local Authorities. The funding for 2016 has been allocated.
Details of the schemes can be found on www.ahg.gov.ie/en/Heritage/BuiltHeritageandArchitecturalPolicy/.
- Structures at Risk Fund (SRF)
The Structures at Risk Fund (SRF) is intended to assist with works to safeguard structures protected under the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2010 and, in certain cases, works to structures within Architectural Conservation Areas, where in the opinion of the Department, an urgent need for works to such structures has arisen and has been demonstrated. Only structures in immediate danger of significant deterioration will qualify for consideration for funding by the Department. The fund supports the owners of protected structures in meeting obligations placed on them under Part IV of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2010.
Applications for assistance under the Structures at Risk Fund must be made to the relevant local authority. A circular and application form has been issued to all City and County councils. Soft copies are also available on the Department’s website, www.ahg.gov.ie/en/Publications/HeritagePublications/BuiltHeritagePolicyPublications/.
Those eligible for assistance under the fund are as follows:
- Owners/occupiers of protected structures i.e. those structures included in the Record of Protected Structures of the Planning Authorities; and
- Owners/occupiers of structures in ACAs (Architectural Conservation Areas), where exceptional circumstances are deemed by the Department to apply.
Any grant approved under the Structures at Risk Fund is required to include matching funding of at least 20% of total project expenditure, save in exceptional circumstances. All applications for funding are assessed by a panel appointed by the Department and projects deemed successful are subject to the approval of the Minister. Whilst there is no formal appeals procedure, written appeals will be considered by the Department on a case by case basis.
Other Grant Schemes
a. Grants to Heritage Institutions and Organisations
The Department may provide funding towards the operational costs of heritage institutions and organisations such as the Irish Architectural Archive, the Irish Heritage Trust, the Irish Architecture Foundation and Irish Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Ireland and the Irish Historic Houses Association.
b. Section 482 Determinations
Section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 provides for tax relief to the owner/occupier in respect of expenditure on the repair, maintenance or restoration of buildings or gardens, which are determined by the Minister for Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to be intrinsically of significant architectural, historical, horticultural, scientific, or aesthetic interest and where the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that reasonable access is afforded to the public. Fáilte Ireland publicises the opening hours of the approved properties primarily via its website at http://www.failteireland.ie/Information-Centre/Publications and also in an annual illustrated booklet. The public may apply to the Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Section directly for details and application forms, which are also available on the website, www.ahg.gov.ie/en/Heritage/BuiltHeritageandArchitecturalPolicy/.
Generally, selected sites considered for State care are acquired either by purchase, (normally through negotiation with the owners), or as a gift to the State or by transfer from another State body. The purchase of a heritage property or monument by the State would only apply in exceptional circumstances, having regard for example to the heritage significance of the potential acquisition, the risk of the loss of this significance and the difficult budgetary position. Since 2011 the Department has not been in a position to acquire any heritage asset.
Built Heritage and Architectural Policy Unit – Major Policy Proposals and Public Consultations
- Review of Section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997
- Review of the Irish Architecture Foundation
Both of these reviews, which will involve elements of public consultation, will be undertaken during 2016