The country's rich historic and architectural inheritance is identified and protected through a process of listing. Under the Planning ( Northern Ireland) Order 1991 the Department of Environment has a statutory duty to compile lists of buildings of special architectural or historic interest.
Listing ensures that the architectural and historic interest of the building is considered carefully before any alterations to the exterior or interior can be sanctioned. It aims to achieve proper care and maintenance and to ensure that such buildings continue to be used and enjoyed.
The lists comprise a wide variety of structures - from mansions to simple cottages and bridges to post boxes.
Buildings can be listed because of:
The older a building the more likely it is to be listed
Environment and Heritage Service (EHS), a specialised department of the DoE, is responsible for compiling lists of buildings of special architectural or historic interest.
During the last 30 years all of Northern Ireland's building stock has been visited and assessed.
In choosing buildings to be listed certain criteria are used which include the age of the building, its style, condition, aesthetic quality and structural system.
If you wish to demolish a listed building or to alter or extend it in a way that affects its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest, you must apply for listed building consent from your local planning authority. It is an offence to demolish, alter or extend a listed building without listed building consent. Your Divisional Planning Office will advise on this matter.
EHS can provide historical and technical advice to owners and their architects. This could include advice on the acceptability of proposed work and information on historically correct materials and detailing.
If you are contemplating a scheme of works - even painting -you should contact EHS to obtain a Schedule of Requirements which will detail the historic elements that must be repaired and the standards to which the work must be carried out.
Before starting any work you should consult your Divisional Planning Office. Listed building consent is necessary in addition to any planning permission needed. For most owners, however, applications for both can be considered.
Planning permission alone is not sufficient to authorise demolition.
It is possible to get financial help for the repair of buildings of outstanding architectural or historic interest. Grant aid is discretionary and listing does not give automatic entitlement to grant aid. In some cases grant aid can be obtained from EHS towards the repair and maintenance of historic elements and for associated professional fees. Grants for repairs or restoration of the historic fabric may also be provided.
If an application for listed building consent is refused or granted subject to conditions, the applicant can appeal to the Planning Appeal Commission.
Environment and Heritage Service
5/33 Hill Street
Belfast BT1 2LA
Historic buildings are a constant reminder to all of the work and way of life of earlier generations and a precious resource for future generations to enjoy.