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.
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
- Structural parts of Scheduled Monuments (those with above-ground remains)
Listed buildings in secular use are assessed using the Buildings and Structures risk assessment whereas listed buildings in use as places of worship are assessed using the Places of Worship risk assessment.
Scheduled Monuments with both above-ground and below-ground remains will have two assessments – one as Buildings and Structures and one as Archaeology.
The Grade II* listed Polegate Windmill is suffering from rain penetration in through the cap and tower walls which is causing damage to the large timber beams on all floors and eroding the mill’s brickwork. The beams which support the heavy mill stones and internal mechanism are currently propped. As a result, there is no public access to the tower but the mini museum on the ground floor is open to visitors. An active volunteer group are passionate about saving the building and fundraising for its repair. A comprehensive condition survey and work to improve the mill’s condition and make it weather tight is urgently needed.
Abbot Reginald's wall
Removed from the HAR Register in 2023, Abbot Reginald's wall forms part of the main ecclesiastical complex of Evesham Abbey, built between 1317 and 1344, fragments of which survive to this day. The rebuilding of the collapsed section and repairs to an adjoining wall have been completed, but sections of the wall were still in poor condition. Historic England offered a Repair Grant of £166,972 for a scheme of repair and consolidation. This is part of a wider restoration of the former allotment gardens recently completed by the Evesham Abbey Trust.
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 support and the support of our partners can be critical.
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 potential to contribute to the success and vitality of places and communities, the complexity and urgency of the case and the significance of the building.
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
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.
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.
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 secular Grade II listed buildings not eligible for inclusion on our Register (only secular Grade II listed buildings in London are eligible for inclusion on the Register)
We prioritise our grants to help 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.