Historic England (HE) most recent Heritage at Risk Register has identified sites currently ‘most at risk of being lost as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.’
We have been recording heritage at risk for twenty years. We published our first Register of Heritage at Risk in 1998. It featured 1,930 listed buildings and structural scheduled monuments. Twenty years on, we are delighted to announce that over two thirds of buildings and structures that were on the original 1998 Register are now safe. Rescue projects in urban and rural areas right across England ranged from urgent stabilisation and repairs to large-scale conversion and reuse. Tackling heritage at risk can take time, but many of the buildings and structures still on the Register have seen great progress, with solutions in the pipeline and repairs underway. For example, 24 sites on the original Register were saved in 2018, after twenty years at risk.
Many former buildings at risk now host successful businesses. Others provide much-needed housing, education facilities, or thriving community centres. While some are visitor attractions or venues providing characterful settings for weddings and conferences, others have been put to more unusual uses. Historic buildings offer opportunities for creativity, helping to reinvigorate areas by generating income and affirming a sense of place and local distinctiveness. It’s thanks to the vision of developers, investors, trusts and friends groups, as well as cooperative working between owners, local authorities, heritage professionals and funders, that repair and reuse projects are often so successful.
In selected cases Historic England offers grant funding and technical assistance. We have given around £50 million in grant to help repair buildings on the 1998 Register, and provided bespoke advice and guidance for many more. Our tailored advice plays an important role in brokering solutions, helping the often complex task of turning visions into reality.
20 Top Heritage Rescues: Visit our Rescues Retrospective web page to learn about heritage rescues over the last twenty years. Here you can also watch and share our celebratory film.
What’s new in 2018?: Our 2018 Heritage at Risk Register includes 2,151 archaeology entries, 1,489 buildings and structures, 99 registered parks and gardens, 911 places of worship, 4 battlefields, 4 wrecks and 502 conservation areas.
Reducing the number of sites at risk is an important part of Historic England’s strategy. Our regional teams work with owners, developers, funders and communities to focus on the country’s most vulnerable historic places and find solutions to rescue them.
The Register is highly dynamic. Hundreds of sites have been added and removed over the last twenty years. Grant aid from Historic England and other funders is one reason for removals. This year Historic England gave grant aid of £9.9m to 236 projects. This grant aid is often the first step to securing the future of a site and helps give confidence to other funders as their support is sought.
Challenges: Despite significant progress, heritage sites continue to be added to the Register every year. In 2018 there were 242 new entries, made up of 75 buildings and structures, 96 places of worship, 58 archaeological sites, 4 parks and gardens and 9 conservation areas. Looking to the future, we will continue to champion heritage at risk, ensuring that valuable and irreplaceable heritage can make its fullest possible contribution to society now and for many years to come. Finding solutions: Through advising funders on which sites are most at risk, and targeting our own grant aid to areas that are far more difficult to fund in general, we will continue to reduce heritage at risk.
Sadly, some owners do not take responsibility for the condition of their sites. In these cases, Historic England can assist local planning authorities in exercising their statutory powers to prompt action. Historic England can provided bespoke advice to councils, and we can also offer grants to support the cost of underwriting action.