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Launch of Holywood Conservation Area Design Guide

Published on Thu, 19 Mar 2009
Minister's launch of new design guidance for Holywood Conservation Area
Department of Environment
March 19, 2009:
Environment Minister Sammy Wilson today launched a design guide to preserve or enhance one of Co Down’s finest towns.
The Minister visited the Old School House in Holywood where he formally launched a new Design Guide for Holywood Conservation Area.
Mr Wilson told guests: “My Department has already acknowledged the town of Holywood is worthy of special recognition by its designation as a Conservation Area on 12 May 2004. As a follow on to this designation, I am delighted to be here today to formally launch the Holywood Design Guide.
“It is extremely important we should highlight and protect our built and historical heritage.
“To date we have designated almost 60 conservation areas throughout Northern Ireland. Conservation Areas are an important asset which should be protected and enhanced for the future.
“The publication of this Design Guide today will help us all to preserve or enhance the unique characteristics that go to make up the Holywood Conservation Area.”
The Design Guide was developed following a detailed analysis of Holywood’s historical development and design characteristics which have contributed to its distinctive character and identity.
It takes account of the many features which have evolved from Holywood’s origins in the early 7th Century as a Christian monastic settlement, through to the birth of many of the elements of the modern town during the 17th century onwards including the crossroads, the maypole and a number of its single storey buildings.
Many important landmarks such as the Town Hall, church and school buildings were built during the 19th century when Holywood acquired town status. Further expansion, linked to the spread of Belfast, in the early 20th Century saw the growth of housing areas on the outskirts of the town.
It has been this history and growth, the Minster said, that formed the townscape character of Holywood and which the Department now wished to see preserved or enhanced.
Mr Wilson said: “The  purpose of the Design Guide is to guide future development and assist the Department in managing change within and in the setting of the Conservation Area to ensure that it conserves and enhances the special character and appearance of Holywood.
“The guide provides appropriate design guidance for those with an interest in Holywood Conservation Area or intending to undertake work on its buildings, landscape, streets or spaces.
“It also aims to ensure the activities of statutory undertakers and public authorities conserve and enhance the environmental quality and distinctive attributes of the Holywood Conservation Area.
“The design guidance emphasises the importance of having a consistently high standard of design appropriate to its site and context and the use of appropriate materials. It provides supplementary planning guidance, which will be taken into account as a material consideration when determining planning applications within, or which affect the setting of, the Conservation Area.”
Mr Wilson said conservation was not just about preservation, with numerous examples of what could be achieved through conservation and appropriate renovation.
He said the Old School House was a fine example of what could be achieved through an appropriate restoration of an endangered building.
The Minister also stressed the Department could not work in isolation in preserving and enhancing the town’s built heritage and he paid tribute to the Holywood Conservation Group for the partnership approach it had adopted with DOE.  

Notes to Editors

1. On 12 May 2004, DOE designated Holywood as a conservation area.
2. Copies of the new Design Guide are available on the Planning Service Website and from the Divisional Planning Office in Downpatrick.
3. For media enquiries please contact DOE Press Office on 028 9054 0014 or out of office hours, contact the EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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