Based on the Act on the Protection of the Built Heritage (498/2010), the protection may cover structures, building groups and built areas, in addition to individual buildings. These must have significance from the perspective of the building’s history, architecture, construction technique, special environmental values, the building’s use, or the events connected to it. The protection may also cover part of a building, the fixed indoor structures, or other area created through construction or by planting vegetation.
A protection proposal can be made by the owner, state authority, municipality, Regional Council or registered community operating in the field for cultural heritage protection.
Before making a protection decision, the ELY Centre must consult the owner or occupant and the neighbours of the building. The ELY Centre will request a statement from the Finnish Heritage Agency and the municipality, and in the Sámi region, a statement from the Sámi Parliament is also required. The ELY Centre may also arrange a meeting with the concerned parties to discuss the protection.
The Ministry of the Environment may either confirm or reject a protection decision made by the ELY Centre.
Nationally, provincially and locally valuable sites may be protected under the Act on the Protection of the Built Heritage. The significance of a site is assessed based on the following criteria:
- The site is rare or unique (rarity);
- The site is historically typical for the area (typicality);
- The site has typical features of the area or a certain era (representativity);
- The original or equivalent use of the site continues, or its construction method, architecture or style remains evident (originality);
- The site offers significant proof of a historic event or phenomenon, or provides an example describing and giving further information on a historic event or phenomenon (historic proof); or
- The structures, materials and stylistic features from various eras illustrate the history and continuity of the site’s construction, maintenance and use (historical stratification).
Surveys, inventories and other reliable material on the cultural environment is used when assessing a site’s significance. Often, a separate building history survey is conducted for a site.
The ELY Centre’s protection decision proposes an area or its part to be protected, and the Centre issues the necessary protection regulations for the preservation of a building’s culture-historical significance. A protected building must not be demolished. Protection regulations may concern
- a building’s preservation in a required condition
- a building’s use in a way that does not diminish its culture-historical value
- a building’s restoration and reparation in a way that does not jeopardise the protection purpose
- the communication with the monitoring authorities required to guarantee the successful protection of a building.
During the protection process, the ELY Centre may prohibit all activities potentially harmful to the building’s culture-historical significance. The owner may also be required to take the necessary protection measures to guarantee successful protection.
When alterations or larger repairs are planned for a site protected by the Act on the Protection of the Built Heritage, a statement on the plan must be requested from the Finnish Heritage Agency. In projects that require a building permit, the building inspector will need a statement from the Finnish Heritage Agency to process the permit application.
In its statement, the Finnish Heritage Agency will evaluate whether the plan is in line with the protection goals. The Finnish Heritage Agency will assess how the plan ensures that the protected values will not be jeopardised and, if necessary, will provide instructions on how to review or amend the plan, the intended work methods or documentation. The project conductor will be responsible for guaranteeing that the protection remains successful.
The Finnish Heritage Agency should be contacted as soon as planning begins in order to clarify the required rules and conditions. A suitable approach and means of communicating during the project will also be agreed on at this time. Typically, the main project designer will function as the contact person with the Finnish Heritage Agency. On special grounds, the Finnish Heritage Agency may take part in the steering of the planning or implementation.