Planning Portal

Conservation Areas 'Jewels In The Crown' Says Sam Foster

Published on Tue, 6 Nov 2001
Are Northern Ireland’s Conservation Areas ‘jewels in the crown’ or ‘albatrosses’’
That is the question being debated by influential environmentalists in Newcastle today.
Environment Minister, Mr Sam Foster MLA, in launching the conference, said: "Conservation Areas are without doubt the jewels in the crown of our built environment. In Northern Ireland we are fortunate to inherit the built heritage that has been handed to us by our predecessors. We have a rich legacy of fine city and townscapes, of villages with their own distinctive Ulster character, and of individual buildings. We can be justly proud of this. With archaeological sites and monuments, they are the pages of a living history of the development of our region.
"However, protection alone, while important, is not enough. Without a positive role for the buildings in Conservation Areas and for the settlements in which they occur, their future remains at risk.
"With this in mind, the DOE has, since 1998, provided significant support to the Townscape Heritage Initiative introduced by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Initiative is focused on Conservation Areas, and aims, in partnership with the public, private and voluntary sectors, to secure the long-term future of the built heritage. This it seeks to do through a range of activities:
  • by repairing the built fabric;
  • by restoring authentic details and materials;
  • by securing the continued use of historic buildings;
  • by bringing vacant floor space in historic buildings back into use; and
  • by facilitating a high standard of design in filling gap sites in key frontages.
These activities require the support of my Department and I have ensured, in allocating resources for conservation related work, that priority is given to this key area."

Notes to Editors

  1. DOE has the responsibility for stewardship of the built heritage and has over the years put in place legislative provisions in order to protect buildings and areas of character and historical interest.
  2. Individual buildings of architectural and historic interest are protected by listing and there are now over eight thousand such listed buildings throughout Northern Ireland.
  3. Planning Service is responsible for the designation of Conservation Areas and there are now 58 in cities, towns and villages distributed throughout the Region.
  4. Last year DOE announced the designation of five Conservation Areas.
  5. Conservation Area status brings with it obligations on, property owners, developers and Planning Service. DOE publishes design guidance when Conservation Areas are designated in order to assist residents and developers in protecting the heritage and managing change. In addition, DOE make use of consultant architects to provide specialist design advice necessary when assessing proposals.
  6. Planning Service of DOE has, since 1998, provided significant support to the Townscape Heritage Initiative introduced by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Initiative is focused on Conservation Areas and aims, in partnership with the public, private and voluntary sectors, to secure the long-term future of the built heritage.
  7. This Initiative requires the support of the Planning Service and resources have been allocated for conservation related work.
  8. To date the Heritage Lottery Fund has sponsored two rounds of the Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme involving 14 schemes, in towns and villages throughout Northern Ireland. Progress is currently being made with a third round of the scheme. Northern Ireland has attracted a high level of Heritage Lottery Fund funding. This grant aid is levering significant amounts of private sector investment in areas which otherwise may not have benefited from this scale of public and private funding. DOE, have sought to support the commitment of Heritage Lottery Fund through funding and through the involvement of planning staff, and will continue to do so.
  9. For further information please contact Philip Maguire, DOE Press Office, Tel 028 9054 0013.
Get Adobe Reader software (link opens in a new browser window)