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Protected structures

What is a Protected Structure?

A protected structure is a building or other feature, (such as a bridge, memorial or castle), which, in the opinion of Clare County Council, is of such special architectural, artistic, archaeological, cultural, social, scientific or technical interest that it should be afforded legal protection so that its intrinsic value can be appreciated by future generations.Such structures can range from the humblest thatched cottage to the largest ‘country house’.

Under the 1999 and 2000 Planning and Development Acts, a Protected Structure legally incorporates the following

  1. the interior of the structure,
  2. the land lying within the curtilage of the structure
  3. any other structures lying within the curtilage and their interiors, and
  4. all fixtures and features, which form part of the interior or exterior of any structure(s), referred to in subparagraph (a) or (c).

Provision is also made for protection to be extended to include features such as gate lodges, gazebos, and so forth which have passed into new ownership through the break-up of an estate or the division of a property.


Under current legislation an absolute Duty of Care is placed upon the owners and occupiers of Protected Structures to ensure that they are not endangered by either: undertaking inappropriate works; direct demolition; or through neglecting the building.  This Duty of Care also applies to building contractors, and all others who are involved in caring for Protected Structures.


Clare County Council shares in this responsibility, and through the appointment of a Conservation Officer within the Planning Department, is in a position to offer advice, guidance, help and information to the stakeholders in the county’s built heritage, be they owners, occupiers, auctioneers, solicitors or members of the general public.

How do I find out if a building is protected?

The Record of Protected Structures, which contains brief details on each building or feature, is contained within the County Development Plan or through clarification by the Conservation Office.


Due to a number of factors, not least the fact that many modern buildings materials and techniques are harmful to the fabric of old buildings, curbs on the work that can be undertaken on Protected Structures have been introduced.  These limitations include an absolute ban on all work classified as ‘exempted development’ including normal maintenance such as painting and installing wall or floor tiles.  There are very good and valid reasons, based on practical experience gained in the care and maintenance of old buildings, for these very tight restrictions.

In order to undertake works on a Protected Structure, an owner or occupier must be in possession of either:

  • Planning Permission
  • A Declaration – This is a document available from the Planning Department of Clare County Council which states the nature and scope of works that may be undertaken which will not affect the character of the building
  • Declaration in Part covering works aided by the Conservation Grant Scheme

Offences and Penalties

  • “Any person who…causes damage to a protected structure or a proposed protected structure shall be guilty of offence” (S.58 (4) Planning and Development Act 2002)
  • “A person who is guilty of an offence…shall be liable (a) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €13,000,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years”  (Section 156 (1) 2000 Act)

The Conservation Grant Scheme

The Protected Structures legislation provides for grant assistance to aid owners and occupiers in caring for their buildings.  The works must be undertaken with an emphasis on conserving as much as possible of the original material in the building.  If necessary, replication is permitted and, as funding permits on a year to year basis, restoration works (such as replacing uPVC windows with appropriate timber windows) are also assisted.

The type of projects which Clare County Council is assisting include:

  • Structural Stability Works
  • Weather-Proofing
  • Damp Proofing

Application forms, advisory documents and booklets are available from the Conservation Office of Clare County Council.

Architectural Conservation Areas

Part IV of the 2000 Act requires Planning Authorities to include measures for reserving.  The character of places, areas, groups of Structures, buildings and townscapes that are of merit, using the eight criteria applied to individual buildings, in their Development Plans.  Many town and village centres in Co. Clare are now adopted as ACAs. (See ACA Brochure)

Planning Permission Procedures for Protected Structures

Any works to a Protected Structures normally considered as ‘exempted development’ require planning permission.  Such works include extensions to the rear, the erection of satellite dishes, even television aerials and so forth. Secondly, the newspaper advertisements and site notice must state that the structure is protected. Thirdly, all applications for the development of a Protected Structure (including the grounds in which the building is located) must be accompanied by sufficient plans, drawings and particulars to show how the proposed development would affect the character of the structure. It is not possible to apply for outline planning permission for development work on a protected structure.

In the case of minor works to a protected structure i.e. repairs works, these can be carried out without planning permission only if the works would not affect the character of the structure or any element of the structure that contributes to its special interest. Section 57 of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2010 allows for the owner or occupier of a Protected Structure or a Proposed Protected Structure to submit a written request to the planning authority to issue a declaration (Section 57 Declaration) as to the type of works which it considers would or would not materially affect the character of the structure or any element of the structure, thereby clarifying which works would be considered exempted development. A request for a Section 57 Declaration can be made by completing the following application form.

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Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 20/02/17