December 17 2013

Nothern Ireland Considering Demolition of Historically Significant & Listed Buildings

Belfast has a vast array of historically important buildings that reflect how the city has evolved. Even though these buildings have been labeled as protected, they are still at risk of demolition. The PAC (Public Accounts Committee) has said that the “body responsible for safeguarding the buildings is not doing enough to protect the most vulnerable.” The list displayed below is of the buildings in Belfast that are currently at risk.

Haymarket Building, Listed B1

Buildings at Risk:

  • Frames Bar;
  • Crumlin Road Courthouse (Graded B+);
  • The Tech (Graded B+);
  • Ewart Building Bedford Street (Graded B1);
  • Bank of Ireland Royal Avenue (Graded B+);
  • Haymarket Building and associated buildings (Graded B1) [Image displayed above];
  • Northern Bank (Assembly Buildings) Donegall Street (Graded B+);
  • Carlisle Circus Methodist Church (Graded B+);
  • St Josephs RC Church Sailortown (Graded B+);
  • May Street Presbyterian Church (Graded B+);
  • Donegall Arcade (Graded B+) [Image displayed below];
  • Musgrave Street police station;
  • Whole of Library Quarter; and
  • Lisburn Road Methodist Church.

Donegall Arcade, Listed B1

In the United Kingdom, historically important building are noted as a “listed building,” which deems them protected from demolition, extension, or any sort of alteration without special permission. Buildings are designated as protected due to special architectural or historic interest. Northern Ireland grades listed buildings in accordance to the following:

The fact that the majority of the buildings to be demolished are also listed buildings is something that calls for further investigation. Some consider a few of the buildings to be derelict; therefore, the land could be used for a greater purpose – such as a new development. On the other hand, there is the thought that these buildings are listed for a particular reason, and should be kept in their historical state. The original architecture could be maintained, but the function of the interior could be altered to provide an actively used building.

The body responsible for the protection of these buildings is NIEA (Northern Ireland’s Environmental Agency). Currently there are around 8,500 listed buildings in Northern Ireland, of which 10% are owned by the public sector. So far the approach to this crisis is that the Environment Minister has raised the grant-aid for listed buildings from £50,000 to £150,000.

Is throwing more money at the issue a cure, or a temporary cover up? What more do you think could be done to improve the protection of these listed buildings?

Credits: Images by James Foskett. Data linked to sources.

James Foskett

James Foskett is currently in his last year of Architecture undergraduate study at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland. Born in Devon, England, he has always had a passion for the Built Environment and therefore is planning on finishing his Architectural education by doing an MArch and possibly a Phd. Inspired by travel, his main interests are contextual designs that contribute greatly to the people that use them. From an Environmental Science background, he is also interested in sustainability and the effects of the life cycle of a building upon it's surroundings.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 at 9:10 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Government/Politics, History/Preservation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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