Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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Deptartment challenges Ballyroan church revamp

EXTENSIVE renovation plans for Ballyroan’s Catholic church have had to be changed following the intervention of a Government department which said some of the original proposals would cause “irreversible damage”.

In the past week Laois County Council gave the conditional goahead to refuburbish St Patrick’s Church, a building which is a protected building and dates back to the 1840.

Under plans submitted to the council, the refurbishment would have included a range of work to the inside and outside of the building.

The refurbishment planned ranged from the repointing of the belltower, a new altar, changes to the gallery, restoration of the stain glass windows and relocating the baptisimal font.

However, the Department of the Environment raised serious concerns over the project early last month when Minister John Gormley’s officials contacted county hall’s planners.

“The Department is concerned at several aspects of this proposed development which, in our opinion, do not represent best conservation practice and which would involve unnecessary loss and disturbance of historic fabric,” said a letter the Department.

Minister Gormley’s staff are also concerned that the potential impact of the refurbishment in that it inadequately described as the work may cause future damage to the building if incorrectly undertaken.

The Dept said the proposed cleaning and repointing of the stonework could cause “irreversible damage” if undertake incorrectly. Issues were also raised over the need for Damp Proof Coursing with the Dept saying that such works can be “very destructive”.

Concerns were also raised at plans for the stained glass.

The Dept said removal of such panels would contravene conservation principles and potentially damage the historic panels.

The replacement of storm glazing with new storm glazing was referred to as a “discredited practice.”

Problems were also highlighted with plans to lower the chancel floor and relocate mosaic flooring.

The Dept said this should not happen because the said such work would cause “significant and unacceptable damage”.

The Dept’s Development Application Unit Manager recommended that county hall should only grant permission if a number of conditions were met.

It said detailed conservation report on all work on the church should be prepared and approved by county hall before any work is carried out.

Laois County Council set a number of conditions on the project proceeding.

It said the precise details of the cleaning and repointing work must have the agreement of the council and meet best practice.

A similar condition was imposed in relation to damp coarsing.

The council allowed the existing storm glazing from the stained glazed windows but could to be removed but ordered that the proposed storm glazing would not be permitted.

Alternative proposals should be agreed with the council.

The council also ordered that a detailed statement and method statement be prepared by a qualified conservation architect which would have the written consent of the council.

Fr Gerard Ahern, PP, declined to comment until the planning process is finalised.

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