The first major survey of Derry’s built heritage in around 40 years is being finalised in order to update the city’s Listed Building Register.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has now revealed that the reports compiled on around 600 local buildings and sites will be forwarded to Derry City Council and others for perusal before final decisions are taken.
Manus Deery, Principal Conservation Architect with the NIEA’s Historic Buildings Unit said: “Currently we have surveyors in the city carrying out the second survey of listed buildings. The first time that was done was 1970s.
“Nothing has been done since. What we are doing now, we are getting detailed descriptions inside and out of the buildings, we are doing detailed historical research, a good record that explains to our architects, to the new Planners who will be in the council, to owners and to the community at large why these buildings should be considered important and what is important about them so we can make the right decisions about them as we move on into the future and hopefully not make any wrong decisions .”
Mr Deery said it was vital to “get that balance right between economic development and heritage conservation and ensure that heritage conservation is part of the solution rather than how it has been looked at as part of the problem”.
The survey work is now largely complete for the city.
Mr Deery said: “Over the next six months or so we will be processing the recommendations of that. There will be another suite of recommendations will be going from NIEA to Derry City Council in February. We will be considering what the council feedback is and what owners’ feedback and Historic Buildings Council’s feedback is before making a final decision on listing.”
There are 433 listed buildings in the council area, Mr Deery said, adding: “Some may have been knocked around so much we can’t really justify them as listed buildings any more. Others are being brought on to the list which perhaps were overlooked on the previous survey.
“We’re looking at 60/40 proportion so if we survey 100 buildings, 60 of them will be listed.”
Among the main listed buildings in Derry are the Guildhall, two cathedrals, Custom House on Shipquay Street, Northern Counties Hotel, Northern Counties Building and the Playhouse.
For more information on listed buildings go to NIEA’s website at: http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/index.htm.