CONCERNS have been raised that a protection order on the recently-closed AIB bank in Dromcollogher could complicate attempts to sell the building.
The bank building in the town square came on the market this week with a guide price of €105,000, just three months after it was contentiously closed down due to cost cutting measures.
However the building, which was constructed in the 1920s, has been on Limerick County Council’s list of protected structures since 2010, and any potential buyer will be bound by conservation rules about what they can and cannot do to the building.
Local councillor Jerome Scanlan said that the protection order will be “an acute problem” for any buyer.
“That bank should never have been closed, though it would be good to see it used as a social amenity within the town of Dromcollogher. But the protection order could prove to be very prohibitive”.
The bank building itself was designed by Henry Houghton-Hill and built in the 1920s for a total of £6,840. A map of Dromcollogher drawn up in the 1890s shows that there was previously a bank branch on the same site, which suggests that it was destroyed – along with the old courthouse and RIC barracks – during the War of Independence and Civil War period.
Tom Cassidy, conservation officer with the county council, said that as the bank is a listed structure, no significant alterations can be made to its facade and planning permission would need to be sought for any works “that would change the central character of the building”.
In recent years grants of anything up to 75% were available for sympathetic redevelopment of listed structures. However this funding has vanished since the economic downturn.
The bank was built to contain a manager’s residence and garden area to the rear. Auctioneer Colm O’Donovan, who is handling the sale, said that the “unique building” could be converted into a residence.
He added that while conservation rules will dictate what can be done to the property, it remains a building “with beautiful character” which has already seen “a good few expressions of interest”.
Cllr Scanlan expressed fear that if the building remains idle long-term, its condition may become deteriorate. He said that there may be a possibility of de-listing the building in conjunction with an agreed sale.