Dáil Éireann - Volume 495 - 03 November, 1998

Written Answers. - Architectural Heritage.

484. Mr. Dukes asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the process for listing buildings as being of archaeological, historical or architectural importance; the body or bodies responsible for this listing; and the obligations imposed on planning authorities by these listings. [21990/98]

531. Mr. Dukes asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the obligations imposed on planning authorities in relation to listed buildings; and the measures in force to monitor their compliance with these obligations. [21991/98]

Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey): I propose to take Questions Nos. 484 and 531 together. [1693] The current situation under the Local Government (Planning and Development) Acts, 1963 to 1998, is that, while the Acts confer extensive powers on local authorities to preserve buildings of artistic, architectural or historic interest, their use is discretionary. Local authorities may include in their development plan objectives for the preservation of buildings or interior features of buildings which are of artistic, architectural or historic interest, and for the preservation of sites or places of archaeological interest. If a building or archaeological site is included for preservation, planning permission is required for works of a kind that would normally be exempt. Where a planning application is received for development which, in the opinion of the authority, would be unduly close to any site of archaeological interest or would detract from the appearance of any building of artistic, architectural or historic interest, the authority must notify a number of bodies, including the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, the Heritage Council and an Taisce, of the application and must take their submissions and observations into account when deciding on the application and on any conditions that may be imposed in granting permission.

In May of this year, my colleague, the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, and I announced a package of measures intended to significantly improve the protection of Ireland's architectural heritage. These include the enactment of legislation which will make the protection of buildings of artistic, architectural or historical interest, a mandatory function of local authorities. Authorities will also be obliged to have regard to any recommendations of the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands to protect particular structures. A planning Bill to implement these proposals will be published shortly. The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands is also preparing a Bill to place the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage on a statutory footing. The inventory will act as a crucial database in identifying buildings throughout the State which are worthy of protection.

It should also be noted that older buildings of historic and archaeological interest may be registered on the Register of Historic Monuments or may be subject to a preservation order under the National Monuments Act, 1934 to 1994. The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands has responsibility in relation to legislation on national monuments which operates independently of the planning code.