Buildings and Structures at Risk
At Historic England we've been collecting information on the condition of our built heritage since the publication of our first register of listed buildings at risk in London in 1991.
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 scheme was later extended to cover the built heritage of the whole of England and the first national register of buildings at risk was published in 1998. Buildings or structures are assessed for inclusion on the Heritage at Risk Register on the basis of condition and occupancy or use. Each annual Register includes a range of fantastically diverse buildings and structures across England which are in need of attention and championing.
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.
What the Register includes
In 2011 we started adding information on the condition of listed places of worship to the Register so our national Heritage at Risk Register currently includes:
- Grade I and II* listed buildings at risk including places of worship
- Grade II listed buildings at risk in London including places of worship
- Grade II listed places of worship at risk outside London
Listed buildings in secular use are assessed using the Buildings and Structures risk assessment. Listed buildings in use as places of worship are assessed using the Places of Worship risk assessment.
Wythenshawe Hall is a Grade II* listed 16th-century manor house situated in large registered parkland, dating from 1540. The building has been on the Heritage at Risk Register since 2016 following a devastating arson attack causing significant damage to its Tudor core. Historic England has provided knowledge, expertise and investment of approximately £70,000. Although the building remains on the register there has been some great progress and the building awaits future reuse.
How we can help buildings at risk
Historic England's main role in securing the future of listed buildings is to provide practical advice, guidance and resources to owners and local authorities.
Our involvement is determined by the significance of the building, the complexity and urgency of the case and the potential to contribute to the success and vitality of places and communities.
We can offer help and support with projects including:
- Analysing the problems facing a building, and making recommendations
- Helping to identify the opportunities and the feasibility of options for future use
- Helping to build the skills and resilience of community groups responsible for buildings
- Helping to broker solutions between partners
- Providing information on funding
Bradenstoke Priory was a longstanding Heritage at Risk case which was removed from the Register in 2020 following the successful repair and conservation of the undercroft. Having removed the timber propping the space can be safely used.
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.
Funding for repairs
Listed buildings and structures at risk can be eligible for funding. Under our grant schemes we can help towards the cost of developing a project, as well as the repairs themselves. In some circumstances, we can also help local authorities with the cost of using Urgent Works Notices and Repairs Notices to enforce the repair of listed buildings.
Although listed buildings at risk are a priority for Historic England's repair grants, our funding is limited compared to demand. Grants from other public sources, notably the National Lottery Heritage Fund, continue to be essential in helping secure the future of buildings at risk. Other funding sources can be found in the Heritage Funding Directory.
The challenges ahead for buildings at risk
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 (only Grade II listed buildings in London are eligible for inclusion on the Register)
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.
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.
Alexandra Palace is a rare survival of a large-scale Victorian exhibition and entertainment complex. The Grade II listed building has been on the 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.