Belfast Telegraph

Listed building in Derry served with Urgent Works Notice

Stormont Executive press release - Department of the Environment

The Department of Environment has served an Urgent Works Notice on the owners of the 1A Academy Road.

This two storey corner Victorian House had been subject to fire on 5 September 2013. Substantial portions of the roof structure were lost in the fire and the building has been left open to the elements. Attempts to engage with the owner have not resulted in action to secure the property. A neighbouring property attached to 1A Academy Road, which is also a listed building, is also suffering substantial water ingress as a result of the fire. This notice aims to secure both listed buildings. 

Welcoming the move, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “The serving of this Notice is a further tangible commitment by DOE to our rich heritage and reflects my Department’s aim that listed buildings should be protected. Listed buildings are jewels from the past which we need to conserve for present and future generations; once gone they can never be brought back. 

“Dereliction can have a significant impact upon communities and areas. 1A Academy Road is located in a prominent part of a Conservation Area and it is therefore particularly important that action is taken in this case.

“It must also be remembered that listed buildings attract much tourism to an area and there is always the potential to develop this further by securing and preserving them. I am determined that we should do that and this Urgent Works Notice is an example of that determination.” 

Notes to editors:

1. The building was listed on 13 March 1979.

2. It is a B Category Building. 

3. It is on the Built Heritage at Risk Register with its condition described as very poor.

4. Following the Heritage Crime Summit held in August 2011 NIEA was provided with extra funding to enable it to undertake direct action in such cases. Six Notices have been issued in Dungannon, L/Derry, Dundrum, Coleraine, Larne and Portrush. A further ten have been prepared but not served as the owners have undertaken the works themselves. DOE policy is to negotiate with the owners of buildings at risk and to encourage and support them to take action to secure their buildings and to find a long term use. However, where a building’s preservation may be at risk it has powers to take direct action. Even in such circumstances, Departmental policy is to find a negotiated solution. In this case, repeated attempts to chart a solution have proved unsuccessful and a notice has been issued. 

5. This building was subject to fire in September 2013 and despite repeated attempts by NIEA to initiate action to prevent further water ingress, actions were not forthcoming. 
6. NIEA has tried repeatedly to encourage the owner to take action. Formal warning letters have issued and an Urgent Works Notice under article 80 has now been issued. The owner has seven days to carry out works to secure the building. After this time, if works have not commenced, the Department will carry these out, and seek recovery of costs from the owner.

7. Paragraph D3 of Annex D to the Department’s Planning Policy Statement 6 (PPS6) – Planning, Archaeology and the Built Heritage policy (in PPS6) outlines the departmental policy to negotiate with owners:-‘While there is no specific duty on owners to keep their buildings in a good state of repair it will normally be in their interests to do so. The Department has statutory powers to take action where an historic building has deteriorated to the extent that its preservation may be at risk. In practice the Department will normally try to enter into dialogue with the listed building owner in an attempt to find a way to rectify the situation before resorting to legal action.’ 

8. Urgent Works Notices, issued under Article 80 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991, enable the Department to carry out urgent works for the preservation of a listed building. These powers are confined to urgent works and are intended to cover only emergency repairs – eg – to keep a building wind and weather proof, and safe from collapse, or action to prevent theft. They are limited to the minimum necessary to secure the preservation of the listed building.

9. The use of Urgent Works Notices is only one part of a wider strategy deployed by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to tackle the issue of listed buildings at risk:

a. It funds the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS) to compile an on line Built Heritage at Risk database (BHARNI). This is published on the NIEA website.
b. It operates a grant scheme which was expanded in 2012 to support repairs for most types of listed buildings at 45%. 
c. It operates a grant scheme which provides extra support to building preservation trusts to help them purchase listed buildings at risk.
d. It funds the UAHS to employ a professional to encourage and advise owners on funding and other means they can take to save their listed buildings
e. It uses its network of area architects to identify potential cases and to engage with owners at an early stage. 
f. It engages with local councils, government departments, and voluntary sector stakeholders to develop solutions in specific areas.
g. Following the Heritage Crime summit it commissioned the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society to produce extra information on reuse and specifically on the potential for ‘meanwhile uses’ to stave off decay. This is now published on the NIEA website at http://www.doeni/ .
h. It writes to the owners of listed buildings which are of specific concern advising them of the Department’s powers to take action should works to preserve the building be regarded as urgently necessary.
i. NIEA is also currently reviewing its grant scheme with a view to seeing if further targeted support can be offered in the future.
NIEA has a ten year target of saving 200 buildings which are on the BHARNI register by 2016. 

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