Widening the ‘Georgian’ window

 

Sir, – Heritage and Ireland ’s historic environment is estimated to account for ¤1.5 billion or 1 per cent of the State’s gross value added (GVA) and approximately 65,000 employment positions. The Irish Georgian Society, therefore, finds itself in strong agreement with the call by Waterford TD, John Deasy, for a more pragmatic approach to the tax relief incentive scheme to the restoration of Georgian buildings proposed under the Finance Bill 2013 (Home News, March 4th).

As Mr Deasy correctly observed, while the Georgian period relates to the reigns of Kings George I-IV (1714-1830), a significant proportion of houses designed and built in the Georgian style of architecture in Ireland (including many structures in Limerick and Waterford) were constructed after 1830. Irish Georgian architecture could, therefore, more properly be considered to include buildings in the Georgian idiom constructed up until 1860.

There is also a strong argument for the removal or amendment of restrictions on the size of buildings eligible to avail of relief under the scheme. The size of Georgian townhouses varies dramatically and it is not unusual for Georgian houses to have a floorspace of up to 500sq m. Floorspace, in any case, is often a somewhat meaningless indicator of habitable space within a Georgian house as, while such a building might have a large floorspace, the number of rooms is often relatively few.

The Irish Georgian Society strongly supports the Government in the Living City Initiative. Encouraging “people back to the centre of Irish cities to live in historic buildings” through a tax relief incentive is a worthy and inspired approach to heritage conservation and needs broader application than proposed. – Yours, etc,

PATRICK GUINNESS,

President,

Irish Georgian Society,

Merrion Square, Dublin 2.