The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society exists to promote the appreciation and enjoyment of architecture from the prehistoric to the present in the nine counties of Ulster, and to encourage its preservation and conservation.
Over the last 40 years the UAHS has established itself as a fearless campaigner for buildings of merit, a generous resource of information on local architecture, and a fair and helpful source of advice on conservation.
The Swanston’s warehouse is a quintessentially Belfast industrial building and the work of celebrated Belfast architectural firm Young and Mackenzie, built for Swanston and Bones – linen cuff and collar makers. The warehouse is an unlisted historic asset which strongly contributes to the architectural character and historic context of the Belfast City Centre Conservation Area in which it is located (background to the campaign can be found here). Listed Buildings in Northern Ireland afford more protection due to their acknowledged architectural and historic importance, but unlisted buildings within Conservation Areas contribute just as strongly to their historic contexts and for this reason also form a strong part of the UAHS remit.
This is a significant ruling; it reaffirms the importance of applying planning policy thoroughly in Northern Ireland’s Conservation Areas, recognising their contribution to the built environment and defending their unique character. Without good planning policies and their proper application and enforcement the heritage streetscape that gives Northern Ireland its unique character will be diminished by design that has neither a cultural or historic relationship with its locality.
Conservation Areas are special places with enormous potential to create long-term economic prosperity. In order to realise that potential, those charged with looking after them need to defend buildings of character, such as this 19th century warehouse.
We trust that this will set an example for the new councils and that they will have the vision to ensure these finite assets are not further diminished, but are retained and put to productive uses.
The full Judicial Review decision will be available on the Courts of Justice website in due course. Meanwhile please see our press release here.