Concerned about a vacant or deteriorating old building in your area? Under measures included in the Planning and Development Act 2000, local authorities have a responsibility to ensure protection of architectural heritage in their area. This means that, if the building is a 'Protected Structure', any individual may write to the Planning Enforcement department of the relevant local authority requesting action so as to prevent its endangerment. The local authority has the power to specify works necessary to secure the structure and prevent further deterioration. (Failure by a local authority to exercise its functions in this regard opens it up to action under Section 155, Planning and Development Act 2000.)

Regular maintenance is essential for the preservation and good upkeep of older buildings. A lack of the carrying out of necessary maintenance work by owners or occupiers will result in the dilapidation or deterioration in the condition of an old building over a period, and buildings can go downhill quickly once unoccupied. 

Often, roof valleys, gutters and downpipes become constricted, blocked or weighed down with unremoved vegetation or other debris, so that rainwater cannot run effectively off the building. This has the effect of driving water towards walls and roofs, giving rise to damp or saturated masonry and/or water ingress into the structure, thus undermining its fabric and promoting its endangerment. Regular checking and timely removal and unclogging of any such obstructing material is essential.

If vacant, an historic building may also be improperly secured, leaving it open to risk of break-ins, theft of features and fittings, vandalism and arson. Keeping an old building in use is the best defense but, should it become vacant, it is essential that it be adequately secured against these risks until such time as it can be brought back into functioning use, preferably in the nearest timeframe.

To write to your local authority concerning a vacant or neglected Protected Structure, obtain and use the authority's general email address or, if available, the email address of the Planning Department. Mark your correspondence for the attention of the Planning Enforcement department in the subject box. Alternatively the postal system can be used. If possible or appropriate a photograph(s) of the structure can also be included to help illustrate your concerns. See an email/letter template which may be used below.

Kevin Duff

The Manager

Planning Enforcement Department

[..insert..] City/County Council


Re: Request for action under Section 59 of the Planning & Development Act for Protected Structure

Dear Manager,

I am concerned about the Protected Structure at [.. address ..] which has been vacant for a period. The building is part of the architectural heritage of the village/town/city/area and is a cultural and economic asset to the locality.

The structure is showing signs of neglect and deterioration [specify; for example vegetation growth in gutters, damp to external walls, evidence of water ingress, roof slates damaged or missing, degradation of stone or brickwork, improper securing, signs of vandalism etc.]. Therefore I request the issuing of a notice under Section 59 of the Planning & Development Act to prevent its endangerment.

Please indicate what action the City/County Council is now proposing to take under the Act to secure the structure from endangerment and ensure its proper maintenance, securing and waterproofing.