30/11/15

Minister Humphreys publishes Action Plan for Historic Houses

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (Monday) launched an Action Plan for historic houses in private ownership. The plan contains nine actions aimed at securing these historic properties on a sustainable footing into the future.

The Action Plan focuses on ways to strengthen links with local communities and local authorities; the development of visitor programmes; boosting marketing and tourism opportunities and improving links between historic houses and the educational sector.

The Action Plan is the result of the work of the Irish Historic Houses Committee, which the Minister established in February of this year. The Committee included representatives from relevant Government Departments, the Irish Historic Houses Association, Fáilte Ireland, relevant non-governmental organisations and a number of individual house owners.

Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:

“My Department estimates that there are up to 2,000 historic houses across the country. These properties are not just historically significant, they are also important assets to local communities which can help to drive tourism and economic activity.

“Due to the age and scale of these properties, owners and custodians face huge challenges meeting their upkeep. While it is not realistic or prudent for the Government to provide large amounts of financial support, I believe we must consider ways to better support historic houses so we can secure their viability into the future.

“This Action Plan sets out a number of practical steps which will help to safeguard the future of historic houses. Four of the nine actions contained in the Action Plan will now be treated as a priority:

  • The development of an Historic House-Living Museum programme, for private houses open to the public to help attract more visitors and tell the stories of these houses
  • The development of a specific visitor promotional programme
  • The establishment of a building conservation advisory service for owners of historic houses, to help advise them on the maintenance and upkeep of their properties
  • A review, in collaboration with the Department of Finance, of Section 482 of the Taxes Consolidated Act 1997;

“It is clear that without action, these heritage properties will fall into decline. This Action Plan should be seen as a first step; my Department will now set about implementing the priority actions and will work with local authorities, property owners and other agencies to provide better support and advice for historic houses across the country.”

Susan Kellett, Chairman of the Irish Historic Houses Association said:

“I would like to thank the Minister for this welcome and far sighted initiative to assist and support the private owners of historic houses.  We now all have the task of ensuring that the Action Plan delivers for owners, their houses, for local communities and indeed for the country.”

ENDS                                                 

Note to Editor:

You can read the Action Plan here: http://www.ahg.gov.ie/app/uploads/2015/11/ihh_report_english1.pdf

Members of Irish Historic Houses Committee

Co-Chairs: Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Irish Historic Houses Association (IHHA)

Representatives from:

  • Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (2)
  • Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Tourism Division)
  • Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (Community division)
  • Revenue Commissioners (S.482 tax relief unit)
  • Heritage Council
  • Local authority representative
  • Irish Heritage Trust
  • Irish Georgian Society
  • Irish Landmark Trust
  • IHHA nominees (3)
  • Fáilte Ireland
  • Representative individual house owners (4)

The Action Plan consists of nine actions under four thematic areas:

1)         Historic houses and their core link with local communities.

2)         Historic houses and fiscal incentives.

3)         Promoting our heritage assets.

4)         Developing a public value approach.

Action Points:

Action 1: (i) Develop with Local Authorities a more streamlined, partnership, approach to the Historic House and its engagement in the local economy, through local economic development programmes, county heritage plans and other initiatives.

(ii) Develop a targeted engagement with rural development programmes, to maximise the

potential for interaction and cooperation between communities and the private owners of historic houses.

Action 2: Review, in collaboration with the Department of Finance, the provisions of Section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

Action 3: (i) The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, in collaboration with the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government mapping project, will prepare a national resource map of Historic Houses, initially of current Section 482 properties;

(ii) Encourage the use of the conservation plan process as a means of identifying and prioritising

works at Historic Houses. The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will establish,

in collaboration with local authorities and others as applicable, a sector specific building

conservation advisory service for owners of Historic Houses and related structures.

Action 4: Develop the capacity of the State to provide co-ordinated and specific financial sectoral support that recognises the public benefits derived from Historic Houses. 

Action 5: (i) Develop a specific visitor programme on the Irish historic houses and collections in private ownership.

(ii) Develop a Living Museum category to promote historic houses to a wide range of visitors, both local and international, in a variety of authentic and stimulating ways.

Action 6: (i) Fáilte Ireland to liaise with the IHHA and agree a methodology that will allow historic house owners to receive guests and visitors in a way that does not compromise the authenticity of the houses concerned.

(ii) Investigate, with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and Fáilte Ireland new ways to include Historic Houses in existing local and national tourism initiatives. Liaise closely with the IHHA to achieve optimum results.

Action 7: Carry out a skills gap analysis of those involved in the Historic House sector, with associated staff, in order to develop and target capacity building training initiatives to address gaps identified.

Action 8: Develop a specific pilot programme focused primarily on a public – private approach to the management and promotion of a privately owned Irish Historic House and its assets.

Action 9: (i) Encourage the use of Historic Houses and their associated estates as centres for learning and educational and training initiatives.

(ii) Engage with the Department of Education and Skills in identifying useful links between the

history and resources of Historic Houses and the formal first and second level curriculum.

(iii) In order to advance the aims and objectives of the strategy, the Department of Arts,

Heritage and the Gaeltacht in collaboration with key stakeholders will assist in the provision

of an independent representative survey of existing Irish Historic Houses in private ownership

nationally.

 

 

Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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