My functions as Minister with regard to the protection of our architectural heritage are set out in the Planning and Development Acts, as are the responsibilities of local authorities and owners.
There are more than 45,000 protected structures spread across all 31 local authority areas in the country. The Planning and Development Acts give primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect architectural heritage by including structures on the relevant local authority’s Record of Protected Structures. Inclusion in the Record of Protected Structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future.
My Department provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) and the Historic Structures Fund (HSF), formerly the Structures at Risk Fund (SRF), which are administered by local authorities.
On 28 March this year I announced funding of €4.3m for 478 projects under these schemes. Details of these projects are available on my Department's website and on local authority websites.
The Built Heritage Investment Scheme is designed to leverage private capital for investment in a significant number of labour-intensive, small scale conservation projects across the country and to support the employment of skilled and experienced conservation professionals, craftspeople and tradespersons in the repair of the historic built environment. The scheme helps with the repair and conservation of structures that are protected under the Planning and Development Acts or within Architectural Conservation Areas. It is administered by local authorities.
The Historic Structures Fund is for conservation works to heritage structures, in both private and public ownership. The primary focus of the Historic Structures Fund is on conservation and enhancement of historic structures and buildings for the benefit of communities and the public. The fund is generally administered through the local authorities who prepare a shortlist of applications and each one can send a maximum of three private and one public project forward for assessment by my Department.
Grants under Stream One of the HSF are for amounts of between €15,000 and €50,000. Under Stream Two a small number of larger grants, up to €200,000, was also available for historic structures in private and public ownership.
The Heritage Council, which my Department funds, also provides grants for the protection and preservation of the built heritage. It is primarily a matter for the Heritage Council to decide how its funding should be allocated across the range of research, education and conservation programmes it supports. Further information about its Grant schemes is available from the Heritage Council and on its website www.heritagecouncil.ie.
In terms of future funding, Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018 – 2027 represents a major capital investment scheme of €1.2 billion in funding over the next 10 years, as part of Project Ireland 2040. This plan will see increased investment in protecting and celebrating our heritage across the country. More details on the commencement and completion dates for projects and programmes, as well as the timing of the expenditure in relation to them, will emerge as we go through the process of appraisal and planning as required under the Public Spending Code.