View of a group of buildings at Chatham Dockyards.
The Grade II* No 1 Smithery at the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, has been rescued and converted into a gallery and museum collections storage, making maritime treasures available to visitors. © Historic England DP232822
The Grade II* No 1 Smithery at the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, has been rescued and converted into a gallery and museum collections storage, making maritime treasures available to visitors. © Historic England DP232822

Buildings and Structures at Risk

Historic England has long been recording the condition of our built heritage. With information going back to 1998 we can track trends over time. This helps us to understand why historic buildings or structures are at risk, how to improve their condition and how they can make the best contribution to the vitality and success of our communities and places.

The following buildings and structures can be included on the Heritage at Risk Register:

  • Grade I and II* listed buildings not in use as places of worship
  • Grade II listed buildings in London not in use as places of worship
  • Scheduled monuments with above ground structural remains

There are currently 1,475 buildings and structures on the Register.

Highbury Hall, the stately home of Joseph Chamberlain, was built in 1879 and has been on the Heritage at Risk Register since 2017. Serious concerns about the continuous deterioration of the roofs led to Birmingham City Council’s monetary commitment to repairs, supplemented by a Historic England’s Repair Grant in 2019, to address urgent repairs.

Buildings or structures are assessed for inclusion on the Register on the basis of condition and occupancy or use.

Their condition can usually be improved by finding imaginative new uses, inspirational owners, alternative sources of funding or new partners.

However, not all buildings or structures are capable of being used. These often present the biggest challenges and hardest problems to solve. From medieval ruins to redundant bridges and cemetery monuments, these sites lack an economic incentive for owners to care for them. In these circumstances our grants and those of our partners are critical. 

The current situation

On the Heritage at Risk Register for 2020 there are 1,475 buildings and structures, including 13 additional entries.

The Register is a valuable tool which really works to focus our efforts, the attention of the public, investors and other stakeholders on the most deserving cases.

Bradenstoke Priory was a longstanding Heritage at Risk case which has been removed from this year’s Register following the successful repair and conservation of the undercroft. Having removed the timber propping the space can be safely used and it is also possible for the public to visit (by prior appointment).

The challenge ahead

We still face a number of significant challenges:

  • Continuing to champion the important role of historic buildings and structures in creating successful and vibrant places
  • Finding ways to bridge the funding gap for buildings and structures that are capable of use but aren't currently economically viable
  • Finding solutions for buildings and structures that are not capable of beneficial use
  • Supporting local authorities to use their legal powers to secure repairs, particularly given the ongoing decline in local authority resources
  • Understanding the condition of Grade II listed buildings not eligible for inclusion on our Register (with the exception of those in London)

We prioritise our grants to meet these challenges but partnership is also critical in delivering solutions. Local authorities, Natural England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, charitable trusts, private investors and developers are all key partners.

Alexandra Palace is a rare survival of a large-scale Victorian exhibition and entertainment complex. The Grade II listed building has been on the London Heritage at Risk Register for over 20 years, but it's reached a significant milestone: with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Haringey Council, the Victorian theatre, shown above during restoration, has been meticulously restored and is now open.

Our regional teams continue to work with owners and local authorities across the country, providing bespoke advice, offering grants where needed and working closely with all partners to secure the best outcomes for our historic buildings and structures at risk.

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