Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (207)

Jack Chambers

Question:

207. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if there has been a change of policy to change the use of lodges in the Phoenix Park from use by staff to short-term market rental; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21376/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

There has been no change of policy regarding the use of lodges in the Phoenix Park.  There are a number of dwellings in the Phoenix Park that are currently vacant due to their poor condition.  The OPW has recently commenced a programme of refurbishment of some of these properties in order to protect and preserve their historic value as part of the Phoenix Park estate. 

The lodges in the Phoenix Park are allocated on the basis of a number of criteria.  These criteria range from allocating a residence to OPW staff in specific posts where there is a requirement for them to be present in the Park at all times, to the assignment of an official residence to a designated office holder.   

Other criteria include options to lease these historical lodges to the Irish Landmark Trust (ILT) for short-term letting to individuals under agreed terms and conditions.  The OPW has worked with the Irish Landmark Trust for several years to ensure that residential heritage properties can continue to be used in a way that is sympathetic to their original design and intention.  The ILT is a non-profit organisation that seeks out interesting and unusual heritage properties in need of conservation.  The ILT works on a range of properties from lighthouses and schoolhouses, to castles and gate lodges.  As an educational charity, its primary aim is to conserve and sustain significant buildings.  ILT properties are presented as living buildings, not museum settings, hence their use as short-term holiday accommodation that provide public access to the buildings in a way that respects the history and architectural integrity of these structures.  Over the past two decades, the ILT has worked with a number of partners, including the OPW, to conserve 31 distinctive buildings across Ireland.  Examples at OPW heritage properties include the Castletown Gate House and Battey Langley Lodge at Castletown House, Celbridge, Co. Kildare and the Annes Grove Miniature Castle at Annes Grove Gardens, Castletownroche, Co. Cork.  

While the OPW may dispose of properties that are surplus to State requirements on the open market, lodges like those in the Phoenix Park are considered intrinsic to the historic estates, parks and gardens in the care of the OPW and are not disposed.  Therefore, in general, these are retained in the ownership of the State.