The number of listed buildings in Belfast went up by 33 yesterday.
Stormont’s environment minister Mark H Durkan unveiled the structures within the city’s council area that are to be given legal protection.
Eight churches are among them, as is a stableyard and four properties in that beautiful tree-lined street that Van Morrison made famous, Cyprus Avenue.
The designations bring the number of listed buildings in Belfast Council Area to 1,154.
This is an important and welcome development in Northern Ireland’s capital city.
Belfast has some wonderful architecture, particularly in its central areas.
The layout and design and range of buildings around the City Hall make the neighbouring streets and landscape a pleasure to be in, and an environment to be proud of when visitors come.
The city has withstood the bombing of the Blitz and the bombings of the Troubles.
It has also been damaged by, but nonetheless largely survived, some bad planning decisions from previous times.Protecting grand buildings was not always a high priority when there were more pressing issues such as poverty.
But as Mr Durkan said yesterday: “Our built heritage is a precious and finite resource.”
It is now prohibitively expensive to build first class buildings, and it happens very rarely. When an old building of architectural merit is allowed to go into decline or be demolished, it is almost invariably replaced by an inferior building that makes Belfast that little bit less attractive.
There is no need for such demolition, because there is plenty of space to redevelop or replace lesser quality modern buildings.
Our small number of outstanding buildings need the sort of protection that Mr Durkan approved yesterday.