England's heritage: Saving at risk listed buildings

41 Pilcher Gate, Nottingham​ Buildings at risk include the oldest residential house in Nottingham built between 1690 and 1700

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A national public body has announced plans to attempt to save England's Grade II listed buildings from the threat of neglect.

English Heritage (EH) is calling on members of the public to assess Grade II listed buildings in their area and flag up if they think they are falling into disrepair.

There are 345,000 Grade II listed buildings in England and the body has extended its Heritage at Risk Register to include these types of sites for the first time.

The list already covers Grade II buildings in London and Grade I and Grade II* buildings in the rest of England but the list is expected to increase as Grade II buildings account for 92% of all those listed.

Heritage treasury

Buildings already identified as "at risk" include the oldest house in Nottingham, a women only lido in Reading and a bomb store in Suffolk.

One of the watchtowers at the Suffolk bomb store A monument to the Cold War has been identified as at risk

EH was at the nuclear bomb facility at Barnham to launch the scheme.

John Ette, inspector of monuments for English Heritage, said: "We've always targeted Grade I, Grade II* and scheduled monuments, but this year we're targeting Grade II listed buildings via a series of pilot studies to extend what we're learnt.

"We're working with local authorities, building preservation trusts or owners to look at what we can do with the Grade II ones, so we'll try to do up to 15 pilot studies to see what we can learn."

Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: "Grade II buildings are the bulk of the nation's heritage treasury.

"When one of them is lost, it's as though someone has rubbed out a bit of the past - something that made your street or your village special will have gone."

To begin the project, EH has earmarked £250,000 to run the pilot surveys.

Start Quote

The whole thing depends on people's enthusiasm but people in England are very passionate about our historic buildings”

End Quote Edward Impey English Heritage

Edward Impey, director of heritage protection for English Heritage, said they would choose a diverse range of areas including urban, rural and those with higher economic challenges for the scheme which will run for a year.

EH staff have been redeployed in new Heritage at Risk teams in each of EH's nine local offices to work exclusively on supporting owners, developers, local authorities and volunteers in rescuing buildings so they can be removed from the list.


Mr Impey said: "The point of the list is to catch things early - some Grade II buildings don't exist any more.

"We don't know how many buildings are at risk but our ambition is to assess them all and look at how many are deemed to be at risk.

"The first thing we need to know is their condition on a case-by-case basis."

EH will publish an assessment guide online so people can review a building from the outside and gauge if it is at risk.

He said: "We'll ask them things like: 'Is it occupied, has it got broken windows and plants growing out of the gutters?'."

Once a building is submitted it will be assessed by English Heritage who will work with funding bodies and local authorities and groups to try to put together a restoration programme.

Site owner Keith Eldred in front of s storage kiosk Not all of the at risk sites are traditional buildings

But EH will not be able to fund all of the work - the body has seen its own budget cuts from £30m in 1999 to £12.5m.

And while in the past developers might repair a building knowing they could sell it and recoup their costs, the "conservation deficit" has rocketed during the recession.

From 2007 to 2012 the deficit - which is the shortfall between the cost of repairs and the money an owner could expect to recoup from the market value of a repaired property - increased from £330m to £423m. The average deficit per site rose from £267,000 to £366,000.

But Mr Impey said despite budgets being squeezed he still believed people were interested in saving buildings.

"Its difficult for local authorities because they are very hard pressed and there are fewer conservation staff but that doesn't mean the will isn't there," he said.

"English Heritage funds have diminished too but there are other sources of money and people are very good at raising money.

"The whole thing depends on people's enthusiasm but people in England are very passionate about our historic buildings."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    We can't save everything. We need to look to the future more than the past.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    There is a place for heritage preservation and for uniform planning laws. What we have at the moment though is a gigantic insane hidden tax on the cost of living in this country. If we are going to insist on spending large amounts of money on hundreds of thousands of buildings of dubious merit then the money should come from a public fund. Chose dying of cancer rather than knocking down old stuff?

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    The problem we have is that we have so much history, ergo so many old buildings with heritage value - can we afford to keep them all or should we tightne the criteria & reduce the sheer volume to manageable proportions?

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Core them and reuse them for other purposes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Attention is long over-due - total relaxation of planning use for these buildings is the best way to save them

    Their preservation depends on their being in full and benificail occupation & use.

    Thank goodness the Govt is giving our hereitage proper attention at long last.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Whilst I agree we should preserve our heritage, the red-tape involved with regenerating listed buildings often delays or completely halts building works. Modern buildings and the expectations of services within these buildings are frequently difficult to achieve when say ceilings and skirtings within the structure are listed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    There are far too many listed buildings. There should only be 500 at any one time and before a new one is added another should be removed.
    Then some of those dreadful cottages can be demolished and rebuilt properly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Come on England!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    It's all a con to get us ordinary citizens of GB to pay for the upkeep of toffs property. Don't start me on the National Trust!! If the owner can't afford to maintain the building, they can sell it or let it fall down. If it's a danger, the council can decide to keep it or knock it down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    And how many of these buildings could be restored if English Heritage cut their red tape and stopped putting obstacles in the way of people who have the way-with-all and finances to restore the buildings? It is 2012 and technology and building methods have moved on. If these buildings are to be saved then English Heritage has to be more flexible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    must be a lot of work needs doing in the south of england-money must be found-never-mind the feckless&sick in the north will pay for it-glad to help out on the energy profits too-must be a lot of tory shareholders happy about the increase-i hope dave appreciates our endevours to be inspired-keep hiking up the prices&cutting dave we can take it or starve&die trying-LOL

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    No doubt with a team on new civil servants to administer the preservations?
    What's needed is a list of building/architectural styles to be drawn up.
    An example of two representing the best of each style should identified and preserved properly with adequate funding. The rest should be allowed decay or preserve according to the owner's finances.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Why not have them dismantled and rebuilt in a theme theme park? This would generate long term income, jobs and somewhere to go on a Sunday:-))

  • Comment number 14.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Yesterday the Prime Minister outlines a grandiose plan for events to commemorate the First World War with public money. Today we hear that there are hundreds of heritage sites where money cannot be found to keep them from decaying. Mr Cameron needs to be reminded that PR, marketing, soundbites etc are not everything in government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    We have the lottery and National Trust for such things. No more public money please the country can't afford it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Yes, this will cost money but we owe it to future generations to preserve our history in this way. What if previous generations had said that preserving stonehenge, york minster, the tower of london, Bath and so on was a watse of money and they couldn`t afford it. Those incredible examples of our history and culture would have been lost for ever

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    This is not something to be ignored by short termist thinking, yes we have difficulties and other uses for cash right now but that's no reason to ignore the longer term Of course many buildings we now see as nothing special, yet that attitude has lost us many things we now would have valued if they had survived Stop pointless enriching of sportsmen with lottery cash for example This spending lasts

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Surely at some point all buildings will become historic and then we will have no where to build?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    I've lived in Nottingham for 15 years, know exactly where the " oldest residential house in Nottingham " (lacemarket, just up from the ice arena) but had no idea of its significance until reading this article. Several other very old, very significant buildings are in similar condition here. They're owned by the council who can't afford them, but being listed deters private buyers like the plague!


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