Friday, 4 March 2011

Report should be catalyst for new approach to protect listed buildings

Cultra Station House
I hope the recent Audit Office report which highlighted failures concerning how government protects historic listed buildings will provide impetus for a step change to deliver better protection and conservation.

The Audit Office report shines a light on the lack of action from the NI Environment Agency to protect our built heritage. Whilst government agencies in other parts of Europe take strong action the Department of the Environment seems to prefer light touch regulation.

Last year I discovered that the Department for the Environment have only issued two Urgent Works Notices in the last ten years. With many listed buildings falling into disrepair across Northern Ireland it is scandalous that government only used these valuable powers twice in the last ten years to preserve our past to deliver a vibrant, bright future for neighbourhoods and town centre's across Northern Ireland.


I hope the Audit Office report will provide impetus for a step change in terms of how government protects and enhances our built heritage. As stated by UAHS the listed building grant generates £4.7 for every £1 invested. Looking after listed buildings not only enhances neighbourhoods and town centre's but also makes economic sense. 


In the meantime I will continue to campaign for action to save our heritage across North Down, leading change to preserve buildings such as Cultra Station House and Stewarts Place, Holywood.

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