Fears for 100 historic buildings due to cuts

 

MORE THAN 100 of Dublin’s most historic buildings are falling into dereliction because of cuts in Government funding which have left Dublin City Council unable to protect them.

Government grants allowed the council to carry out emergency repairs to just one protected structure in 2011 and the council said it would be able to save a maximum of two in 2012.

One of the council’s most senior officials has described the Government’s funding for endangered historic buildings as “minuscule” and said Dublin was being treated in the same way as Leitrim, despite having far more protected structures.

Until 2010 local authorities operated the National Conservation Grants scheme under which owners of protected structures could get funding of up to €25,000 for building conservation. In 2010 Dublin City Council was allocated €622,000 under the scheme.

Last year the scheme was scrapped and replaced with a structures-at-risk fund. The council secured just €80,000 under this fund last year and managed to make emergency repairs to just one building, Aldborough House on Portland Row, an 18th-century mansion that had sustained considerable water damage due to the theft of the roof lead.

In 2012 just €500,000 has been provided under the fund for the entire State. Each local authority can only submit two applications for funding regardless of its size and the number of protected structures within its jurisdiction. In Dublin this would allow the council to protect 1.8 per cent of the protected structures on its buildings-at-risk register.

There are 110 protected structures on the Dublin register that are suffering from varying degrees of dereliction, through neglect, vandalism or unauthorised development.

Assistant city manager Declan Wallace said the historic character and fabric of the city was in danger of being lost.

“The State’s response I would have to say has been minuscule in terms of making €500,000 available for the country in terms of dealing with buildings at risk.”

Despite appeals from the council the Government had failed to take into account the extent of the stock of historic buildings in the city, Mr Wallace said.

“Dublin City Council has by far and away the most protected structures.

“We have probably twice the number of all other counties in the country combined and yet there is no cognisance being taken of the fact... We can make two application, the same as Leitrim”

When the Derelict Sites Act was passed in the 1990, which required owners to maintain their buildings, it was followed by an urban renewal act which helped people to fund their preservation. That funding element was now gone, Mr Wallace said.

The problem of dereliction was worse now than it was in the early 1990s, he said, because many historic buildings had been bought during the boom but the owners had now gone bankrupt, leaving no one to maintain the buildings and no way of funding repairs.

“We can impose the serve notice on the owners, telling them what work has to be done – if they don’t do it we can take them to court.

“Alternatively, we can do the work ourselves and seek to recoup to cost from the building.

“Thirdly, we can CPO the property.

“Now all these actions take money and we don’t have the money.”