Policy HE8 Non-listed Locally Important Building or Vernacular Building
All development proposals for the sympathetic conversion of a locally important and/or vernacular building should involve the minimum intervention and should maintain or enhance the existing character of the building and its setting.
There will be a presumption in favour of the sympathetic conversion and/or re-use of a non-listed locally important building or vernacular building to other appropriate uses where it would secure its upkeep and retention and maintain or enhance the form, character and architectural features, design and setting of the existing building.
Proposals will be required to meet all of the following criteria:
the proposal will maintain or enhance the form, character, architectural features and setting of the existing building and not have an adverse effect on the character or appearance of the locality;
any extension(s) shall be subservient to the existing and adjacent buildings with regard to height, scale, form and massing; and
any new extensions, alterations or adaptations should not significantly alter the integrity of the existing building or its setting and must be of high quality.
Replacement of a Vernacular Dwelling in the Countryside
Proposals involving the replacement of such dwellings will be assessed against Policy HOU9 Replacement Dwelling and in addition, the existing dwelling must be retained in perpetuity and incorporated in the layout of the overall development scheme to form an integrated building group.
Justification and Amplification
There are a significant number of buildings within Mid and East Antrim which by reason of their built attributes or their social and historical connections are important in defining the character and identity of their locality. While these buildings are not currently considered to be of sufficient interest to merit statutory listing, they undoubtedly enrich local distinctiveness and assist our understanding of the evolution of the historic environment in Mid and East Antrim. These buildings should therefore be retained, and where possible, appropriate uses sought to secure their ongoing viability.
Non-listed locally important buildings are buildings which have a degree of architectural or historical significance but are not formally designated and can include buildings such as former school houses and churches, mills or former banks.
The term vernacular architecture is applied to building design that was not formalised, but its form, plan and method of construction expresses local or regional traditions. Vernacular dwellings can largely be identified by their simplicity of form, built without formal plans or drawings, based around a linear plan layout and constructed of locally sourced materials.
The impact of a development on the significance of a non-listed heritage asset will be taken into account in determining the application. In weighing a proposal that directly or indirectly affects such assets, a balanced judgement will be made having regard to the scale of any harm or loss relative to the significance of the heritage asset.
The retention and reuse of these types of buildings exemplifies sustainable development and Council will support appropriate re-use and sensitive conversion if necessary, rather than their replacement. This may include proposals for residential, tourism or recreation use, small-scale employment uses or new rural enterprises (see Policy ECD4 – Economic Development in the Countryside). All proposals for the conversion of non-listed locally important or vernacular buildings should involve a minimum level of intervention and should maintain or enhance the character of the existing building and its setting.
Approval will not be given to a proposed extension which significantly alters the integrity or character of the original building. Buildings should be of permanent and substantial construction and should not be so derelict that they could only be brought back into use by substantial rebuilding, tantamount to the erection of a new building. Good design is particularly important and where extensions or external alterations are proposed, these must reflect the form, scale, massing, materials and respect the character and architectural features of the existing property. All proposals will therefore be critically assessed as to their contribution to the conservation of the building to be converted.
Structural issues will not be given substantive weight when making a case for replacement where these have arisen due to neglect of a building through lack of maintenance or failure to secure it by the current or previous owners. Evidence will be required to indicate alternative options for stabilisation of the existing structure have been considered in efforts to retain the building. If however, evidence is submitted that clearly demonstrates that the vernacular dwelling is found to be structurally unsound and not capable of sympathetic conversion or repair to allow residential use, a replacement dwelling will be permitted provided that the existing dwelling is retained in perpetuity, through a sympathetic conversion to a functional use that is ancillary to the proposed dwelling house to form an integrated building group. The original building should not be left derelict.
Where a proposal for the conversion or replacement of a non-listed locally important or vernacular building is considered acceptable any curtilage created, as part of the proposal should not have a harmful effect on the character of the countryside, particularly in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other areas of high landscape quality.