Heritage at Risk: Latest Findings
There are 5,097 entries on the Heritage at Risk Register in 2020.
We published our most recent Heritage at Risk Register on 15 October 2020. 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.
The collection of this year’s data has been affected by Covid-19. From the onset of ‘lockdown’ site visits were not possible for either our staff or local authority colleagues, meaning that the usual level of on-site checking of entries and proposed entries on the Register was not possible for that period.
This year, therefore, we have not reported on trend data to avoid comparisons with previous years’ data which was gathered differently. In our Official Statistics 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
- The percentage of each listed asset type which appear on the Register, and
- The number of entries added to or removed (for positive reasons) from the Register.
Over the last year 181 historic buildings and places have been saved. In these challenging times our historic places have been providing solace to their local communities. Heritage has a proven positive impact on people’s quality of life and that has hardly ever before been so important.
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.
Thaxted Guildhall in Essex was removed from the Heritage at Risk register in 2020, following completion of structural repairs to the sole plate and other elements of the timber frame at the front of the building, part funded by a Historic England grant. This much loved community asset is once again open to the public.
In 2020, 181 entries were removed from the Register for positive reasons, but 216 were added.
This year has seen an increase in the number of places of worship on the Register. If this is the start of a trend then we need to find out more about why the previous pattern of removals balancing additions has changed. Possible reasons could be the increase in metal theft, a reduction in the number of local people able to do maintenance, or lack of understanding about how valuable it is to do small maintenance and repair jobs to stave off decay.
Grant aid from Historic England and other funders is one reason for removals. This year Historic England gave grant aid of £8.96 million to 186 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.
Medieval and post-medieval Dudley Castle has been 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 are already 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 2020 there were 216 new entries, made up of 58 buildings and structures, 90 places of worship, 64 archaeology entries, 1 cemetery and 3 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.