Conservation – Protected Structures

What is a Protected Structure?

Laois County Council is required to compile and maintain a Record of Protected Structures for its functional area.

A Record of Protected Sturctures is a mechanism available for the statutory protection of the architectural heritage.  The Planning Authority must include in the Record every structure, which, in its opinion is of special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest.

The Record of Protected Structures forms part of the Laois County Development Plan 2011 – 2017.

A Planning Authority may add a new record to or delete a structure from its Record of Protected Structure

  1. in accordance with a review of its Development Plan or
  2. at any other time
  3. by following different prescribed procedures.  The making of an addition to or deletion from the Record is a function that is reserved to the Elected Members.

Which buildings in Laois are protected?

All Protected Structures in Laois are listed on the Record of Protected Structures for the County, which forms part of the County Development Plan 2011 – 2017.

Why Protect our Architectural Heritage?

Our architectural heritage is a unique and exceptional resource. Structures and places that have acquired character and special interest over time have cultural significance in a changing world. All of their parts have been tested by our climate, and those that have survived the process of decay, and the interventions of their users, have acquired economic, environmental and aestetic value.

We enjoy the fruits of this inheritance, and we have a duty to ensure that it is conserved, sympathetically reused, and passed onto our successors with its value intact.

What parts of a protected structure must be preserved?

The terms “structure” is defined by Section 2 of the 2000 Act to mean “any building, structure, excavation or other thing constructed, or made on, in or under any land, or any part of a structure so defined, and where the context so admits, includes the land on, in, or under with the structure is situate”.

A “Protected Structure” is defined as any structure or specified part of a structure, inside or outside, which is included in the Record of Protected Structures.

How does a structure become a protected structure?

Local Authorities must follow certain procedures if it is proposed to deem a structure to be a protected structure. This involves notifying the owners and occupiers of the structure, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and other bodies of the proposal.

An owner or occupier is entitled to make comments on such a proposal to the Planning Authority. These comments are taken into account before the Authority’s Elected Members decide whether or not the structure should become a ‘Protected Structure’.

What obligations fall on owners and occupiers to ensure the preservation of protected structures?

Each owner and occupier must ensure that a protected structure or any element of a protected structure is not endangered through harm, decay or damage, whether over a short or long period, through neglect or through direct or indirect means.

Grants for conservation of Protected Structures

Funding is available for conservation of Protected Structures in 2016 through the Structures at Risk Fund 2016.

The closing date for applications to this scheme has now expired.


Altering a Protected Structure

Section 57 Declarations

Owners or occupiers of a Protected Structure may request a ‘declaration’ under Section 57 of the Act.  The purpose of a Section 57 declaration is for Planning Authorities to clarify in writing the kind of works that would or would not materially affect the character of the structure or any element of the structure which contributes to its special interest.

The issuing of a declaration is a service that the Planning Authority provides at no cost to the owner or occupant of a protected structure. The Planning Authority has twelve (12) weeks from the receipt of a request for a Section 57 to have it completed.

Penalties for failing to meet obligations:

Owners and occupiers could be fined up to €1 million and €10,000 for each day of a continuing offence and/or a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years can be imposed on an owner or an occupier for –

  • endangering a protected structure, or
  • failing to carry out works, ordered by a Local Authority, to a protected structure or a structure in an architectural conservation area.


Conservation Grants

Built Heritage Investment Scheme 2016

Funding is available to assist owners/managers of protected structures with conservation works in 2016, under the Built Heritage Investment Scheme. This funding has been provided by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Laois County Council will administer the scheme in Laois. A total of €50,000 has been allocated to the scheme in Laois. Full application details and an application form are below.

The closing date for this scheme has now expired.

Application forms are here: Built Heritage Investment Scheme 2016 Application Form

Circular BHIS 2015/1 which outlines the full details of scheme and instructions for applicants is here: Built Heritage Investment Scheme 2016

Funding will be at 50% of the capital cost, to a minimum of €2,500 (ie total project cost €,000) and up to a maximum of €10,000 (ie total project cost €20,000)Matching funding for each project from the private sector will be required at a rate of 50%. Details of jobs created or supported through the operation of the scheme will also be required.

 View Protected Structures

The Record of Protected Structures (available below) lists all structures that have been passed up to the date of the adoption of the Laois County Development Plan 2011 – 2017

Laois Record of Protected Structures 2011-2017

From time to time additions/deletions may be made to the Record of Protected Structures by Laois County Council.

Proposed Additions and Deletions to the Record of Protected Structures are made by way of public consultation and by resolution of the County Council. A structure becomes a proposed Protected Structure when notices under Section 55 of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2015 have been served.  A proposed Protected Structure has the same protection as a structure on the Record of Protected Structures.