Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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The enforcement section apparently finally gained access to the building a week after the City Council were notified of the unauthorised works. It is through DCC that word has filtered out that the entire original roof structure is gone and a new roof structure erected. Since the original roof sprang from about 450mm below the second floor ceiling level, I can only assume that the damage extends to the second floor also.

The guy I talked to in enforcement was very pleasant, which, frankly, is not what you want from an enforcement officer. He claimed to have no knowledge of what the original roof structure would have been and therefore had nothing to compare the new roof structure with, although even with this limited insight he could observe that all the timbers were new.

My understanding is that there is an architect of some kind engaged in the unauthorised works currently under way at 91 Camden Street.

The legislation pertaining to ‘Protected Structures’ is crystal clear.

None of the works of repair and renewal that can be assumed to be exempted development in the case of ordinary buildings can be assumed to be exempted development in the case of Protected Structures.

To avoid any doubt, Section 57 of the Planning & Development Act sets out the procedures by which the owner of a Protected Structure may apply for a Declaration from the local authority determining whether certain specified works are, or are not, exempted development.

In the case of works to a building on the ‘Protected Structure Register’, only works specifically detailed in a Section 57 Declaration, issued by the local authority, can be claimed to be exempted development.

In making that determination, the only works that can be considered permissible as exempted development are ”. . those works [that] would not materially affect the character of: (a) the structure, or (b) any element of the structure which contributes to its special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest.”

The roof structure of no. 91 Camden Street was the defining characteristic of the house, there was no other cruciform roof in Dublin that was comparable to it in terms of the survival of original fabric, it is inconceivable that any layman, let alone any professional, could have misunderstood that.

Knowing the the removal of the original roof structure could never be deemed exempted development, it was the clear obligation of the owner of 91 Camden Street, and his architect, to apply for planning permission if they intended to carry out any works to the structure and particularly any works to its distinctive roof.

Because the building is a Protected Structure, such a planning application would always be preceded by a number of consultations with the local authority conservation officer where the scope of the works would be discussed and any misunderstandings on the value of the structure put to rest. As the works pertain to a Protected Structure, the local authority would have advised the owner that the planning application itself would need to be assembled by an architect specifically accredited in conservation and be accompanied by a detailed appraisal of the historic/architectural value of the structure and accompanied also by a detailed method statement setting out the case for the proposed works and the manner in which they are proposed to be carried out so as to specifically minimise any loss of original fabric, or loss of character, in the structure.

What is happening to 91 Camden Street is the exact opposite of what is set out in the legislation and it is impossible not to conclude from the manner in which the works have been carried out, without any visible scaffolding, protective mesh or site signage, that it was entirely the intention of the owner and his crew to carry out these works under the radar and thereby avoid all the obligations that pertain to Protected Structures detailed above.

This will keep happening in Dublin until the local authority are forced to make a stand.

The legislation says:

58. (4) Any person who, without lawful authority, causes damage to a protected structure or a proposed protected structure shall be guilty of an offence.

If the local authority do not take effective action against the people who have caused this damage to 91 Camden Street, then they will be among the people directly responsible for the damage to the next Protected Structure that the cowboys gut.

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