Funding secured for 618 projects at protected building and historic structures across the State

Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has approved funding in principle for 618 projects at protected building and historic structures across the State.

These projects, with a combined value of €21 million of which €5 million is from the taxpayer, are being progressed under the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme 2014.

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These projects will allow for a range of important conservation works to take place at protected buildings in all parts of Ireland, and will generate and support significant employment in the conservation and construction industries and in specialist trades.

By making it a condition of the scheme that taxpayer funds will at least be matched by private funding, initial figures provided to the Department indicate that the €5 million BHJLS will unlock €16 million in private funding for these projects.

Of the 618 structures approved, the majority are nineteenth-century houses – ranging from farmhouses to glebe houses, to suburban villas and townhouses – followed by churches and country houses. The repair and conservation of a large number of thatched structures will also be funded. The main type of work to be funded is roof repairs such as replacing/renewing slate, leadwork, flashing and timbers.

While many of the structures are either private domestic dwellings or places of worship, a large number of commercial and tourism/heritage structures are also included. Some notable structures that have also been approved in principle for funding include St Colman’s Cathedral, Cork – a building rated by the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as being of International importance – Birr Caste, Co. Offaly and Russborough House, Co. Wicklow.

Local authorities, to whom responsibility for administration of the scheme has been devolved, have assessed applications from owners/occupiers of protected structures and then submitted them for approval in principle by the Minister. All successful applicants must comply with the terms and conditions of the scheme in order to draw down funding.

Minister Deenihan commented:

“Ireland’s heritage buildings and protected structures are a vital part of our villages, towns, cities and also the rural landscape. They help make Ireland look like Ireland. They tell a story about our past. And, they are also homes, businesses and places where communities gather together.

“With thousands of people living and working in heritage buildings, I am delighted to announce the allocations from this scheme. This scheme is the most significant investment in protected buildings since 2008, and has unlocked more than three times its value from the private sector.

“This innovative approach is aligning heritage assets with economic growth and shows how historic buildings are not only an intrinsic part of Ireland’s heritage but also can provide real benefit in job creation and to the construction, conservation and tourism sector.”

Minister Deenihan also thanked the support of the local authority network and building owners in the operation of the scheme, saying; “I particularly wish to acknowledge the contribution of the local authorities in embracing this scheme which will have such a positive impact on protected structures across the country. I am also delighted by the response of private owners and their willingness to release substantial private matching funds of €16m, well above the 50% requirement. This further demonstrates how this scheme will act as a catalyst for economic growth and job creation.”

Nationally more than 600 projects are being provisionally approved today. Funding allocations have been made with reference to both population size and the number of protected structures in each local authority area. A county-by-county breakdown of the number of projects approved in each local authority area is set out below.