Though the vast majority of heritage assets in Northern Ireland are well looked after, a small proportion (around 8% of listed buildings) are considered to be at risk.

This may be because they are;

  • long-term vacant
  • neglected and/or poorly maintained
  • structurally unsound
  • damaged by fire
  • unsecured and in danger of loss
  • threatened with demolition

Find out about heritage at risk across Northern Ireland from the Heritage at Risk NI (HARNI) Register

The majority of assets on this register are listed buildings. Some unlisted historic buildings of local interest and some historic monuments are also included.

The Historic Environment Division works with owners, developers, heritage groups, building preservation trusts, local communities, and other stakeholders to find solutions for the issues faced by these assets and to help realise their latent potential. Once such structures are lost they are gone forever and it is important that we work together to seek solutions.

  • If you are concerned about a heritage asset and think it should be included on the register, please send details and photographs to
  • If you own an asset on the register and would like advice on potential solutions please e-mail the same address. We also publish guidance on securing vacant properties.
  • If you would like to set up a group to tackle an asset on the register in your neighbourhood we would be happy to talk to you.

Since 1993 the Department has worked in partnership with Ulster Architectural Heritage to record, highlight and tackle this issue.  The UAH was commissioned to undertake a review of the first twenty years of the project in 2016 and to make recommendations for the way forward. The UAH Report on Heritage at Risk and the Division’s response is available.

The partnership has had two main aims: to maintain a register of heritage assets which are considered to be at risk; and to encourage solutions for the issues they face. Encouragement has included tailored advice, the publication of guidance and the delivery of conferences and seminars. The Division has also prioritised such structures for grant aid and encouraged action through its network of area architects and Field Monument Wardens.

Urgent Works Notices (UWN)

Sometimes, engagement does not result in action and a structure may become at further risk.

Under the Planning Act 2011 action can be taken to protect unoccupied listed buildings, or the unused part of occupied listed buildings, that have deteriorated to the extent that their preservation may be at risk. Costs for this work can be reclaimed from the owner.

In 2015 this power was devolved to Northern Ireland’s 11 new district councils and the Department issued Guidance for Councils on Urgent Works Notices.

The Department recommends that councils first enter into a process of discussion with an owner, before resorting to this legal process and is happy to provide advice, if required, in regard to individual cases.

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