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. Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect the architectural heritage by including particular structures on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS).
With regard to procedures for identifying architectural heritage, the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) was established by the Architectural Heritage (National Inventory) and Historic Monuments (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1999. Its purpose is to identify, record, and evaluate the post-1700 architectural heritage of Ireland as an aid in its protection.
As Minister, I can make recommendations to planning authorities for buildings and structures to be included on the Record of Protected Structures and these recommendations arise from the survey of the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH). Inclusion on the RPS 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. However, the final decision as to inclusion of a building or structure on the RPS remains a reserved function of the relevant planning authority.
The inclusion of a structure in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) Building Survey does not confer protected status on that structure. A structure is protected only when it is included on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS) in the Development Plan or when it is included within an Architectural Conservation Area (ACA) where specific objectives and policies may apply.
Any owner of a structure included in the NIAH Building Survey who may wish to carry out works to that structure should, in the first instance, contact the Architectural Conservation Officer (ACO) or equivalent planning official in their Local Authority to confirm the status of the structure. The ACO should be able to advise if the elected members have considered the Ministerial Recommendation or if a decision is pending. The ACO will also be able to provide advice on what, if any implications this may have in the context of proposed works.