What is a Listed Building / Protected Structure in Ireland?
Widely referred to as “listed buildings” across the UK, a listed building in Ireland is more commonly referred to as a “protected structure”. A protected structure is a building with a 'preservation order'. Basically it means that a planning authority has deemed the building /structure to be “of special interest from an architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical point of view”. Prior to the enactment of the Planning and Development Act in 2000, definition or recording of protected structures in Ireland were not done in an organised manner. Some local authorities kept a record of protected structures but some did not; thankfully the existence of the Planning and Development Act in 2000 changed all of that so that there are structured procedures surrounding protected buildings around Ireland.
What is a curtilage of a protected structure?
Curtilage refers to the land immediately surrounding a structure which is (or was) used for the purposes of the structure; this includes outbuildings on that land. When people think about the term “protected structure”, they may believe that it’s just the building itself that is protected. That is not the case however and so the following are all deemed protected as part of the overall structure:
- Structure of the interior of the property.
- The land in its curtilage.
- Other structures on that land and associated interiors.
- All fixtures and features forming part of the interior and exterior of the protected structure or any structure on the grounds attached to it.
Is it OK to buy a listed building / protected structure?
Yes, it’s ok to buy a protected structure but like any property purchase, due diligence is required. The assistance of an experienced property engineer who has previously worked on protected structures would be an advantage in order to provide you with a detailed engineer’s report. With listed buildings / protected structures, there are many things toconsider but the main one is how restricted you will be in terms of any desired changes to the structure. If a section of your protected structure falls into disrepair, it may qualify for a grant as part of the Historic Structures Fund. Information on how this fund works and how to apply can be found on this government website.
What can I do to a listed building without consent? Are protected structures exempt from building regulations?
The only thing that protected structures are fully exempt from is building energy certification requirements. However, with protected structures, you cannot carry out any work interior or exterior without consent from the planning authority. They will connect you with the conservation officer in the authority who will liaise with you to advise if the proposed works require planning permission. Some works may not require planning permission for example painting a front door but it’s advisable to liaise with the conservation officer of your local authority before proceeding.
Some properties are deemed to be a part of an Architectural Conservation Area (ACA). Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council define an ACA as: “... a place, area, group of structures or townscape that is of special architectural, historical, archaeological, technical, social, cultural, or scientific interest, or that contributes to the appreciation of a Protected Structure.”
Properties in ACA areas are likely exempt from planning permission for interior works but will likely require planning permission for any exterior works. Exterior elements of these properties can include the likes of wrought-iron railings etc. so it’s important to keep this in mind before starting any work. Liaison with the local authority is advisable in these instances
Are all older buildings protected structures? How many protected structures are there in Ireland?
Not all older buildings are protected structures and there is a process of getting any that need to be considered into the system. There are thousands of protected structures all over Ireland and there is a register you can search in all county councils where they maintain what is called a “record of protected structures”. Some locations such a street in its entirety could fall into what’s known as an “architectural conservation area” (ASA); this means that you can carry out internal works without planning permission but there may be restrictions on the types of exterior work allowed.
For Dublin properties, the record of protected structures is segmented into volumes as indicated by the below example in the image. These volumes are downloadable PDFs and you can search for specific areas. You will have to check all volumes if you’re looking for a specific property/locality as it may have been added to the record over time.
Can I tell in advance the works I can do on a protected structure in Ireland?
In advance of carrying out renovations on a protected structure, there is a facility in Ireland whereby an owner can request what is called a “section 57 declaration” from their local authority. This declaration will detail works that will and will not impact on the character of the property. This declaration is available free of charge but takes about 12 weeks to obtain. Handily, protected structure property owners can choose to pay €80 for what’s called a “section 5 declaration” from the local authority. This will detail planning permission exemptions and what does require planning permission. Generally the turnaround for this declaration from Dublin City Council is approximately four weeks.