I recently announced the allocation of €475,000 in grant funding to thirty-four local authorities under my Department’s Structures at Risk Fund 2013 to enable conservation works to forty-five heritage structures in both private and public ownership deemed to be at significant risk of deterioration and which are protected under the Planning and Development Acts 2000 – 2012. Applications for funding under this scheme received by 24 April 2013 were assessed by an expert panel within my Department based on the following equally weighted criteria:
- Significance of Structure;
- Urgency of works;
- Quality of Method Statement;
- Efficacy of works.
Significance: The Planning and Development Acts 2000-2012 require that a protected structure be of special interest under the following categories: architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social and technical. This element is largely based on the views of the relevant local authority.
Urgency: Works are deemed to be urgent where there are safety, fire or security risks, where there is a risk of water ingress and/or dry rot, where there is evidence of critical damage to the historic fabric (including any significant features, decoration, or artefacts, etc), where there is active structural movement, where the rate of decay has accelerated exponentially or where other extenuating circumstances apply.
Quality of Method Statement: This refers to the relevance and standard of the method statement submitted having regard to the guidance note prepared by my Department, the proposed works, scale of the project and the quality of experience of the person or team charged with delivering the project.
Efficacy of Works: This relates to the value of works being undertaken in securing the survival of the structure in the medium to long-term. Applicants were required to explain how the amount of funding sought was likely to make a significant contribution to eliminating risk and to preventing further deterioration of the structure, thus ensuring its survival into the future.
I hope to be able to continue this scheme in 2014 with applications being made directly by local authorities. However, this is subject to normal budgetary considerations.