Over the last number of years significant steps have been taken towards the conservation of the architectural heritage through the introduction of comprehensive legislative provisions included in the planning code, most notably in Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000.
Under current legislation it is an offence for an owner or occupier of a Protected Structure to allow it to be endangered, or to carry out works that could affect its character without Planning Permission. The penalties for contravening the legislation can be severe.
A Protected Structure is a structure that a Planning Authority considers to be of special interest from an architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social, or technical point of view and is included in its Record of Protected Structures (RPS).
Conservation works should only be carried out by persons competent in these specialist activities. (International Council on Monuments and Sites. Guidelines for Education and Training).
Generally any Works to a Protected Structure require Planning Permission, even a small extension or minor alterations that in a normal building would be considered Exempted Development.
Planning applications for works to Protected Structures are made in the normal way but are far more detailed than ordinary applications and include extra reports, photographs, drawings, Impact Statements and other material to explain the proposed works.
Where permission is granted special conditions may be imposed on the works and may require the appointment of a conservation consultant for the construction phase to oversee the relevant works.
It is also possible for the owner or occupier of a Protected Structure to apply for a Section 57 Declaration from the Local Planning Authority defining the works to the building which would not affect its character and for which planning permission would not be necessary.
A Declaration could include items such as redecoration, routine maintenance and repairs to windows, doors, gutters and downpipes, re-fixing of loose slates, etc. Such a Declaration is a valuable document for any owner or occupier as it can clear the way for future alterations, repairs, re-decoration and other works that would otherwise require an application for planning permission every time. The planning authority will generally issue a Declaration within three months and there is no fee for this service.
Where a building is listed as a Protected Structure or is located in an Architectural Conservation Area an architect with skills and experience in conservation should be employed.
To assist in the selection of an Architect with conservation expertise the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland have developed an accreditation system consisting of three Grades of Accreditation with Grade I being the highest level. Eamon Hedderman is accredited as a Conservation Architect Grade 1 based on length of experience, level of expertise, and the nature of the buildings worked on.
A Conservation Architect/Practice Grade I can provide, in addition to the standard range of services:
Advise on the philosophy and principles of conservation, including UNESCO, ICOMOS and other Charters, Regulations and Guidelines.
Advise on the legal background to conservation.
Advise on statutory obligations regarding Declarations, notifications and consents.
Advise on special techniques of repair, restoration and consolidation.
Advise on possible appropriate new uses for Historic Buildings.
Advise on the integration of modern technology and services into historic buildings.
Record the condition of Historic Buildings.
Provide non-destructive investigation to analyse and evaluate Historic Buildings.
Provide structural and material Condition Reports determining the causes of building deterioration.
Diagnose intrinsic and extrinsic causes of decay as a basis for appropriate intervention.
Design appropriate alterations and extensions.
Liaise with Fire Officers and building owners or occupiers to form appropriate fire prevention and security strategies.
Advise on on-going maintenance strategies and management policies.