A protected structure is a structure or a part of a structure that a planning authority considers to be of special interest from an architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical point of view. Details of protected structures are entered by the authority in its Record of Protected Structures, which is part of the Development Plan. This can be updated at any stage during the life of the Development Plan. All up to date details will be on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS).

The owner and/or occupier of a protected structure is legally obliged to ensure that no danger is caused to the structure. This obligation applies from the time when an owner or occupier is notified of a proposal to include a structure in the Record of Protected Structures. At this time, the structure becomes a 'proposed protected structure'.

Very few people go through the planning process without availing of the services of an Architect or other appropriately qualified individuals (referred to from here on as an Agent). A planning consultant (agent) can guide you through the planning application process and can work with your architect where necessary to deliver a high quality and compliant planning application. Employing a good agent guarantees a better chance of a positive result in a shorter timescale. Through their expertise, he/she will know what is required in a planning application reducing the need for a Further Information Request.

The obligation to preserve a protected structure applies initially to all parts of the structure. This includes the interior, all land around it, and any other structures, and their interiors, on that land. This obligation also applies to any exterior or interior fixtures and fittings of a protected structure, or of any structure on land immediately within its cartilage.

If a declaration is sought, the planning authority can clarify which, if any, parts of the structure or its surrounding cartilage are not of special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest, and do not require special protection.

An owner or occupier of a protected structure must ensure that neither the structure nor any element of it is endangered. Endangering a structure may mean:

  • Directly or indirectly damaging the structure, or any element of it.
  • Neglecting the structure to such an extent that it is damaged.
  • A copy of the site notice must be submitted with the planning application. Here are some links to a blank site notice and a guide to completing it.

    Under the planning system, many minor works to structures do not normally require planning permission. These works are known as exempted developments. However, for a protected structure, such works can be carried out without planning permission only if they would not affect the character of the structure, or any element of the structure that contributes to its special interest.

    You must seek clarification from the Planning Authority as to the type of works that would or would not materially affect the character of the structure, and which would or would not require planning permission. In the case of some structures where the decorative condition is of special interest, planning permission could be required for interior decorating, such as plastering or painting.

    An owner or occupier of a protected structure may request a declaration from the planning authority regarding the structure and its curtilage. This will indicate the types of works that can be carried out without affecting any element of the protected structure that contributes to its special architectural historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social and technical interest, and those works that cannot.

    Works that are normally exempt and do not affect the character of the structure do not require planning permission. However, owners or occupiers who carry out such works without a specific exemption in a declaration from the planning authority do so at their own risk. An owner or occupier may request a declaration from the planning authority at any time, even when not works are contemplated.

    Planning applications for protected structures are made in the same way as for any other planning application. However, a planning application for works to a protected structure will generally require more detail. This is because of the sensitivity of most protected structures to inappropriate works. The relevant newspaper and site notice for the application must indicate that it relates to a protected structure.

    Additional information on how the proposed development would affect the character of the structure must be submitted with the application. The local authority will notify other interested bodies, including the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Heritage Council and An Taisce, before making a decision.

    The Built heritage and Jobs Leverage Scheme 2014 is operated by the City and County Council to assist owners or occupiers of protected structures to undertake necessary works to secure their conservation.

    An architectural conservation area is a place, area, group of structures or townscape that is either of special architectural, historical archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest, or which contributes to the appreciation of protected structures. This could include a terrace of houses, buildings surrounding a palace, or any group of buildings that together give a special character to an area.

    In a rural setting, an architectural conservation area could include a group of structures associated with a mill or with a country house estate. An architectural conservation area can also include protected structures. A planning authority, in its development plan, may designate an area as an architectural conservation area, to ensure that its character is preserved. Planning permission is normally required before works can be carried out to the exterior of a structure in an architectural conservation area.

    A planning application involving a structure in an architectural conservation area is generally made in the same way as any other planning application. The newspaper and site notice must indicate that the planning application relates to a structure in an architectural conservation area. Additional information on how the proposed development will affect the character of that area must be submitted with the application. The planning authority will notify other interested bodies, including Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Heritage Council and An Taisce, before making a decision on the application.

    It may be advisable to consult with your planning authority in advance of applying for permission for development, to ensure that your application is complete.

    Owners of historic buildings may be able to avail of the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme (HRI). Details for this can be obtained from the revenue Commissioners at http://www.revenue.ie/en/tax/it/reliefs/hri/hri-general-faqs.html#section5

    Tax relief is available to the owner/occupier of an approved building (including surrounding garden) or an approved garden existing independently in respect of expenditure incurred on the repair, maintenance or restoration of the approved building or garden. An approved building is one which The Minister of Environment, Heritage and Local Government has determined is of significant historical, architectural or aesthetic interest, and The Revenue Commissioners have determined that reasonable access to the building is being afforded to the public. An approved garden is one which The Minister of Environment, Heritage and Local Government has determined is of significant horticultural, scientific, historical, architectural or aesthetic interest, and The Revenue Commissioners have determined that reasonable access to the garden is being afforded to the public.

    Application forms for a determination by the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government may be obtained from; Architectural Protection Section, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dún Scéine, Harcourt Lane, Dublin 2.
    Tel. 01 4117100

    Early discussion with a Planner and Conservation officer is recommended. The value and significance of the structure has to be established initially. The level of information required is dependent on the complexity and importance of the structure as well as the extent of the intervention proposed. Certain statutory requirements must be fulfilled. If you have any queries re your protected structure, an historic building or any conservation issues contact Rosemary Ryall, Executive Conservation Officer, Waterford City & County Council at (058)22021.