Launch of Built Heritage Investment Scheme & Historic Structures Fund for 2021

Launch of Built Heritage Investment Scheme & Historic Structures Fund for 2021

Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan has launched the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and the Historic Structures Fund for 2021. With €6m in funding across both schemes, they represent a significant boost to the conservation of Ireland’s built heritage. It is expected the schemes will support hundreds of projects while also creating over 30,000 days of employment.

Minister Noonan said: “Now, more than ever, our communities must be supported in their efforts to repair, preserve and restore our built heritage. The importance of our built environment cannot be overstated. It is an integral part of our culture, our sense of pride and is of huge importance to our local economies. I am therefore delighted to be able to announce an increase in investment for both the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and the Historic Structures fund for 2021. Today’s announcement is an indication of the Government’s continued commitment to improving our built environment.”

The Conservation Grants are managed on the ground in Laois by Laois County Council. Welcoming the Minister’s announcement, Catherine Casey, Heritage Officer with Laois County Council said “We are delighted to work with our central government colleagues and with private owners and community groups to owners to look after the local built heritage of Laois and to ensure that our heritage is protected as a community asset. In 2020, 9 projects in Laois were funded by the two schemes, to a total of €155,000 for projects ranging from thatched cottages to large country houses. One of the more well-known projects is the ongoing conservation of the homeplace of James Fintan Lalor by the local community in Raheen. We look forward to the increased funding allowing us to work with more owners to conserve more properties and to support more local jobs in the construction sector”.

The Built Heritage Investment Scheme and the Historic Structures Fund will support the owners and custodians of protected structures in every local authority area across the country in 2021. Together, both schemes will assist hundreds of small-scale, labour- intensive projects as well as larger-scale projects to repair and conserve our historic built environment. The projects will also give significant support to local jobs in conservation, traditional skills and construction, providing a vital boost to local economies during challenging times a cumulative total of some 30,000 days of employment will be generated.

Tinakill House, homeplace of James Fintan Lalor. The house was in danger of collapse a number of years ago and the hard work of the local community has saved it and secured its future, with the support of Laois County Council, the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and the Heritage Council. Photo: Lotts Architecture

The 2021 Historic Structures Fund will also include two new pilot streams: one for vernacular structures and another for historic shopfronts.

“The vernacular structures stream will support what can be termed ‘informal’ traditional buildings that are a significant part of our intangible cultural heritage,” Minister Noonan outlined. “Historic shopfronts have always been eligible to apply for funding under the HSF; to incentivise such applications in 2021, Local Authorities will be allowed to shortlist an additional project if that project concerns the refurbishment and conservation of historic shop facades, windows and/or signs.”

Laois County Council has given priority for many years to thatched houses under the conservation grant schemes and now that commitment is being matched at national level with a new vernacular heritage pilot stream under the Historic Structures Fund. Photo: Patrick Murphy/Laois County Council

The funding includes a total of €3 million for the Built Heritage Investment Scheme – an increase of 20% from last year’s scheme – and €3 million for the Historic Structures Fund – an increase of over 75% from HSF 2020. Applications open from now until 29 January 2021. Details of the schemes and how to apply are available on the website of Laois County Council here.