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18 June 2014
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Legacies - De-listing

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De- Listing - Crime Against Bricks And Mortar.

When alterations cannot be dated by DoE, owners can claim that enforcement is out of time. Enforcement may not succeed so it has been decided to de-list such buildings.

There has also been a case when alterations were dateable but the owners pointed to neighbouring buildings that had been altered, and argued that it was not fair to prosecute in one case but not in the other

As a result, when the current process started in 1999, about 180 buildings were de-listed while about 50 were added to the statutory list (which is about 8,000 in total), and the process has continued at a similar rate.

The Historic Buildings Council for Northern Ireland has reluctantly accepted some de-listings where buildings have been demolished or hopelessly altered, but has stated that it would like to see prosecution resulting in such cases, and has refused to accept a large proportion of the de-listings.

Conservationists are disturbed by the principle of de-listing because it sends out a signal to developers that a building can be de-listed if it is sufficiently altered or structurally unsound.

Listing is a key component within our present, very weak, planning system, and it should not be diluted. Without public confidence in the listing system all the other mechanisms that flow from it will not be effective.

Some positive steps

To increase awareness of the importance of retaining and maintaining Northern Ireland's listed buildings, the Environment and Heritage Service set up the Good Schemes Awards as part of their 30 Years of Listed Buildings` celebrations, in 2002. These awards give recognition to owners of listed buildings who have carried out schemes, which are in line with good conservation practices.

The B listed, former News Letter building, Donegall Street, Belfast
© Crown copyright. Reproduced with the permission of the HMSO.
The grade B listed former News Letter offices, Donegall street, Belfast, is a good example of the scheme. This Victorian Gothic building, designed by William Hastings in 1872, was concealed for years under layers of paint. During a recent restoration scheme the owners, Willis and Doherty, removed the paint from the front facade to evaluate the condition of the underlying stone.

The owners were persuaded to repair and keep the rich polychromatic sandstone and polished granite that was revealed. This restoration has given an important part of the buidlings`s heritage back to Belfast.

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