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Attwood acts to protect historic medical building in Belfast

Environment Minister Alex Attwood has today stepped in to protect the former Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion building in Durham Street in Belfast.

The Minister has a Building Preservation Notice (BPN) on the building which temporarily protects it as a listed building for six months while further research is carried out.

Commenting on his action Minister Attwood said:“I have decided to issue this notice to protect this former Tuberculosis Institute for a period of six months. This will give my Department time to carry out detailed research and consultation to determine if it should be the subject of permanent listing as a historic building.

"We have to look forward and we must plan for our future. But we must also not ignore what has shaped us. Our built heritage provides a tangible connection to our past and we should protect its best features for future generations. Built Heritage also plays a part. It is integral to our tourism industry and this is why I have acted.”

Building Preservation Notice’s were introduced in 2003 to protect historic buildings which are in danger of demolition or major alteration for a period of up to six months as a listed building. In this case the Department is of a view that this building is likely to merit protection by listing because of its fine detail and important history. It has become aware that plans are being drawn up to demolish parts and convert the rest to a new use. Protection at this stage is precautionary and will ensure that its architectural and historic interest is maintained in any changes.

The building dates from 1918 and was designed by the important Belfast firm of Young and Mackenzie. It has a fine carving of the Belfast coat of arms and a carving of Hygeia, the Greek goddess of hygiene and sanitation, over its entrance door. The building was carefully designed to close the long vista along College Square North and it complements the setting of the nearby listed Christchurch

Notes to editors:

1. Under the terms of a 2003 amendment to the Planning Order a building must satisfy two criterion to be temporally listed in this way: In the view of the Department the building must be of special architectural and historic interest; and it must be in danger of demolition or of alteration in such a way as to affect its character as a building of such interest.
2. Upon the evidence gathered to date, the view of NIEA Built Heritage is that the building is likely to meet the special interest test.
3. The Department has become aware that plans are being drawn up to demolish parts and convert the rest to a new use. Protection at this stage will ensure that its architectural and historic interest is maintained in any changes.
4. NIEA now has six months to consider these buildings in detail before deciding whether to proceed with permanent listing. The Historic Buildings Council and the local council will be formally consulted during this time.

Belfast Telegraph