Heritage at Risk: Latest Findings
There are 4,985 entries on the Heritage at Risk Register in 2021.
We published our most recent Heritage at Risk Register on 4 November 2021. Our Register identifies sites most at risk of being lost as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.
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.
As with last year, the collection of this year’s data has been affected by COVID-19. For 2021, the usual level of on-site checking of entries, additions and removals, was not possible for both our staff and local authority colleagues. However, desk-based assessments and updates were carried out.
For a second year we have not reported on trend data to avoid comparisons with previous years’ data which was gathered differently. We have, however, still reported on the main statistics calculated for this year:
- The number of entries on the Register for each risk assessment type
- For each heritage asset type, we report on what percentage of listed sites appear on the Heritage at Risk Register, and
- The number of entries added to or removed (for positive reasons) from the Register.
Historic places saved in 2021
Over the last year, 233 historic buildings and places have been saved thanks to the hard work and dedication of local communities, owners and stakeholders who have come together to rescue places despite the challenges wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Charities, local councils and Historic England have also worked together to see historic places restored, re-used and brought back to life. More examples of this kind of work can be found in our work on High Street Heritage Action Zones.
Looking after and investing in these historic places is key to the country’s economic recovery. The buildings and places rescued from the Heritage at Risk Register can help level up economic opportunity, support skilled local construction jobs, build resilience in private and public organisations and boost tourism. Reusing historic buildings and taking care of our building stock, speaks directly to addressing climate change.
Cresswell Tower in Northumberland was removed from the Heritage at Risk Register in 2021, following the completion of restoration work part funded by a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant. This 14th-century pele tower, until recently a roofless shell, has now been transformed into a remarkable community space.
In 2021, 233 entries were removed from the Register for positive reasons, and 130 were added.
Grant aid from Historic England and other funders is one reason for removals. In 2020/21 Historic England gave grant aid of £9.8 million to sites on the Heritage at Risk Regiester, plus another £5.6 million which was awarded to historic places from the government's Culture Recovery Fund as part of the Heritage Stimulus Fund (Round One), with further awards made in 2021/22. These grants help with emergency repairs to historic buildings and help protect the livelihoods of the skilled craft workers who keep our cherished historic places alive.
Medieval and post-medieval Dudley Castle was placed on the Heritage at Risk Register in 2020 due to localised areas of structural failure, loss of masonry and the impact of invasive vegetation. Dudley Council, Dudley Zoo and Historic England have been working together to find solutions to the problems faced by this local landmark.
Heritage sites continue to be added to the Register every year. In 2021 there were 130 new entries, made up of 46 buildings and structures, 42 places of worship, 35 archaeology entries, 2 parks and gardens, 1 wreck site and 4 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.
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 provide bespoke advice to councils, and we can also offer grants to support the cost of underwriting action.