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.

Case-by-case

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
    -8

    Comment number 40.

    Do we really need these ugly buildings?

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 38.

    Our ancestors didn't worry about saving buildings (other than maybe some castles)
    Londoners managed to burn down quite a bit in the middle ages.
    Too many buildings are listed for frivolous and sometimes, spiteful reasons (to prevent development).
    We live in an evolving world. Would anyone want to go back to mud hut squalor?
    Spend money on the care of our elderly not woodworm and rot!

  • rate this
    -4

    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
    -4

    Comment number 42.

    English Heritage needs to be shutdown.

    Just another bunch of the "chosen few" doing what they want to do at the expense of everyone else.

    Stop it and close the lot down now.

    Get people into real jobs not fake historians.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 45.

    If it belongs in a museum, perhaps it should be placed in one.

    It would not be the first time a whole building were dismantled, moved somewhere new and re-erected.

    This gives planners a better and open prospect for redeveloping brown areas.

    Towns Cities houses and homes are for the living.
    Museums are visions of how we were accustomed.

 

Comments 5 of 67

 

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