Conservation – Protected Structures

Grants for Conservation of Protected Structures

Conservation grants for buildings on the Record of Protected Structures are available each year. Details and application forms are here.

Sources of Advice

Owners or managers of Protected Structures should seek advice from qualified professionals in planning work to a Protected Structure. Depending on the building type, importance, condition and scale of works, this may be a conservation architect, conservation engineer or other professional.

Several registers of professionals exist:

The Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland has a register of architects who have skills and experience in working with older buildings. To assist building owners in choosing a Practice to provide them with professional services in architectural conservation, the RIAI developed an accreditation system to recognise differing levels of specialist expertise. There are three Grades of Accreditation, Grade 1 being the highest and Grade 3 the basic entry level to the System. Full details and a description of the types of work carried out by each grade are at the RIAI Website.

The Conservation Accreditation Register for Engineers (CARE) has been established jointly by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the Institution of Structural Engineers(IStructE) to identify engineers skilled in the conservation of historical structures and sites. This is a UK accreditation but through an arrangement with Engineers Ireland, Irish practices can also join the CARE list. A full listing of CARE members operating in Ireland and the United Kingdom can be found here

In addition, there is a list of conservation professionals on the Traditional Building Skills Register of the Irish Georgian Society.


Why Protect our Architectural Heritage?

Our architectural heritage is a unique and exceptional resource. Structures and places that have acquired character and special interest over time have cultural significance in a changing world. All of their parts have been tested by our climate, and those that have survived the process of decay, and the interventions of their users, have acquired economic, environmental and aesthetic value.

We enjoy the fruits of this inheritance, and we have a duty to ensure that it is conserved, sympathetically reused, and passed onto our successors with its value intact.


What is a Protected Structure?

A Protected Structures is a building designated by Laois County Council because of its special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest. Laois County Council is required to compile and maintain a Record of Protected Structures for its functional area.

A Record of Protected Structures is a mechanism available for the statutory protection of the architectural heritage.  The Planning Authority must include in the Record every structure, which, in its opinion is of special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest. The Record of Protected Structures forms part of the Laois County Development Plan 2011 – 2017.

A Planning Authority may add a new record to or delete a structure from its Record of Protected Structure during the review of its Development Plan or at any other time, by following different prescribed procedures.  The making of an addition to or deletion from the Record is a function that is reserved to the Elected Members.


Which buildings in Laois are protected?

The Record of Protected Structures (available below) lists all structures that have been passed up to the date of the adoption of the Laois County Development Plan 2021 – 2027

Laois Record of Protected Structures, 2021-2027

The Record of Protected Structures (available below) lists all structures that have been passed up to the date of the adoption of the Laois County Development Plan 2017 – 2023

Laois Record of Protected Structures, 2017-2023


What parts of a protected structure must be preserved?

The terms “structure” is defined by Section 2 of the 2000 Act to mean “any building, structure, excavation or other thing constructed, or made on, in or under any land, or any part of a structure so defined, and where the context so admits, includes the land on, in, or under with the structure is situate”.

A “Protected Structure” is defined as any structure or specified part of a structure, inside or outside, which is included in the Record of Protected Structures.


How does a structure become a protected structure?

Local Authorities must follow certain procedures if it is proposed to deem a structure to be a protected structure. This involves notifying the owners and occupiers of the structure, the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional and Gaeltacht Affairs, and other bodies of the proposal.

An owner or occupier is entitled to make comments on such a proposal to the Planning Authority. These comments are taken into account before the Authority’s Elected Members decide whether or not the structure should become a Protected Structure.


Church of St Michael and All Angels Abbeyleix, 1872

Church of St Michael and All Angels Abbeyleix, 1872


What are the obligations on owners and occupiers?

Each owner and occupier must ensure that a protected structure or any element of a protected structure is not endangered through harm, decay or damage, whether over a short or long period, through neglect or through direct or indirect means.


Altering a Protected Structure

Section 57 Declarations

Owners or occupiers of a Protected Structure may request a ‘declaration’ under Section 57 of the Act.  The purpose of this declaration is for Planning Authorities to clarify in writing the kind of works that would or would not materially affect the character of the structure or any element of the structure which contributes to its special interest.

The issuing of a declaration is a service that the Planning Authority provides at no cost to the owner or occupant of a protected structure. The Planning Authority has twelve weeks from the receipt of a request for a Section 57 to have it completed.



Penalties for failing to meet obligations:

Owners and occupiers could be fined up to €1 million and €10,000 for each day of a continuing offence and/or a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years can be imposed on an owner or an occupier for –

  • endangering a protected structure, or
  • failing to carry out works, ordered by a Local Authority, to a protected structure or a structure in an architectural conservation area.
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