Demolition of Protected Structures and Buildings in Architectural Conservation Areas – Policy Application and Rationale

Demolition of Protected Structures and Buildings in Architectural Conservation Areas – Policy Application and Rationale

The loss of any protected structure should be wholly exceptional; therefore, in most instances, the City Council will resist the demolition or substantial demolition thereof. Where a structure is considered to make a positive contribution to an Architectural Conservation Area (ACA) and is identified through the development management process or an ACA appraisal, there will be a presumption against demolition.

The City Council accepts that in some circumstances the loss of a heritage structure (protected structure or nonprotected structure of merit) may be the only option and this may be permitted where it will secure substantial public benefit or where there is no other viable option. Decisions on the acceptability of demolition will be reached having regard to the significance of the structure and the guidance as set out in the Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Architectural Heritage Protection published by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (2011).

Not all structures within an Architectural Conservation Area contribute to the special interest and the re-development of sites which make a negative contribution to the character of the area will often offer an opportunity for beneficial change which will improve the local area, as set out in the Architectural Conservation Area policy.

Some structures neither detract from nor make a significant contribution to the character of an Architectural Conservation Area and may be identified as making a neutral contribution to the character of the ACA. In these circumstances, the acceptability of demolition will be considered, having regard both to its impact on the character of the ACA, any wider benefits, and the desirability of retention of the existing building on sustainability grounds.

In addition, the inherent sustainability of retention and refurbishment, compared with the whole life energy costs and waste impacts that would result from demolition and replacement, is recognised. The reuse of existing structures preserves the embodied energy expended in the original construction, minimises waste and reduces the use of new materials. The City Council will, therefore, consider which option is most sustainable when considering applications for demolition and developers must demonstrate that the proposed replacement integrates exemplary principles of sustainable design. Where re-cladding is considered appropriate, this should incorporate external insulation.

In certain circumstances, where it has been agreed that substantial demolition of a non-protected structure is acceptable, the retention of the façade may be important, where this makes a positive contribution to the special character of the area. In these circumstances, the retention of the building façade may offer a compromise allowing protection of façades of townscape merit while allowing new accommodation to be developed behind. The City Council will seek to avoid the ‘stage set’ effect resulting from insensitive development behind retained façades; the new building and the retained façades should retain an architectural and functional relationship. Such proposal will need to demonstrate substantial other benefits which outweigh objections to demolition on sustainability grounds.

In any circumstances where the demolition of a heritage structure has been deemed acceptable, developers should record the structure prior to demolition and deposit evidence in a publically accessible location.