Report on the care of the government historic estate published

Date published: 18 February 2019

A new report highlighting the care of heritage assets in government ownership has been published by the Department for Communities (DfC)

This is the third report since the adoption of the protocol in 2011 which lays down a consistent approach to the management of heritage assets.

The report highlights good practice and provides sources of further advice and information, along with reporting on the current nature of the public historic estate, the work being taken to conserve it and its contribution to the wellbeing of people across Northern Ireland.

It features, for example, works to the roof of the grade A listed Parliament Buildings; the award winning works at Ballycopeland Windmill and repair works to the longest listed asset at the Mourne Wall owned by NI Water.  It also highlights the protection of the nuclear bunker at Caherty, owned by the Executive Office which is a new addition to the estate as it was recently protected through scheduling.

The report also demonstrates partnership approaches with district councils for example on the management of sites and buildings along with information on initiatives for heritage skills training and investment in the work of the voluntary and community sector.

Interdepartmental working at some sites is featured and government departments’ contributions to ‘wellbeing’ initiatives with the opening of sites for trails and park runs at Loughry Campus, Castlewellan Forest Park, Kilbroney Park and Stormont Estate respectively, have been welcomed.   

Permanent Secretary Tracy Meharg at the Department for Communities said: “I welcome the publication of this report which shows increased emphasis on partnership and innovative solutions to get our unique heritage assets back into social and economic use. 

“I very much hope that all departments will be proactive in keeping buildings in active use as they are a key resource which, in addition to their heritage interest, are an important part of our surroundings; contribute to community pride; and help strengthen our economy, right across Northern Ireland.”

The report also covers the disposal of a number of buildings and sites and an update on assets in former government ownership including Ormiston House, Belvoir Park Hospital, Cultra station, Crumlin Road Courthouse and Riddel's Warehouse.

Director of Historic Environment Division at the Department for Communities, Iain Greenway said: “The report will hopefully inspire public bodies to celebrate the assets in their care; to value the heritage skills involved in the repair and maintenance of these sites; and to create new opportunities to open these assets to the public. This chimes with the work of the historic environment stakeholder group and the messages in the ‘Heritage Delivers’ document’.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This is the third report covering the period 2015-17 with subsequent developments up to the end of July 2018.  
  2. The protocol commits government to setting a good example in the care of its historic estate.  It applies to all departments and agencies and sets out twelve points which they will follow. The protocol for the care of the Government Historic Estate document can be accessed online
  3. ‘Heritage Delivers’ can be accessed at http://niheritagedelivers.org/
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  5. Media enquiries to DfC Press Office on 028 9082 3532 or email press.office@communities-ni.gov.uk.  Out of hours, please contact the Duty Press Office via pager number 028 9037 8110 and your call will be returned.

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