View of blacksmith at work on specialist repairs to metalwork forming part of Dalton Mills, Norton, Yorkshire
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The future of Grade II* Dalton Mills, Norton, Yorkshire, is now looking bright under the care of its new owner and with an extensive programme of repairs which we are part-funding. © Historic England
The future of Grade II* Dalton Mills, Norton, Yorkshire, is now looking bright under the care of its new owner and with an extensive programme of repairs which we are part-funding. © Historic England

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 1,489 buildings and structures on the Register, ranging from a medieval timber-framed hall in Manchester to a 1950s concrete sculpture in west London.

Visitors looking at exhibits in the Victorian glass cases at Wisbech Museum.
Wisbech Museum in Cambridgeshire is a real treasure – a purpose-built Victorian museum, with many of its original display cases and contents, and cherished by the community it serves. The building has been added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 2018, given concerns about the poor condition of the roof. Leaks are starting to cause serious damage to the internal plasterwork and threatening the collections. Historic England is now helping to fund much needed repairs. © Historic England DP232397

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. 

Vintage buses parked inside one of the hangars at Hooton.
Two of the First World War aircraft hangars in Hooton (Cheshire) are undergoing their final phase of repairs in 2018/19, which will result in their removal from the Heritage at Risk Register. The future of these vast Grade II* listed structures is being secured thanks to the perseverance and imagination of the Hooton Park Trust and funding from Historic England. © Historic England DP175783

The current situation

Our data continues to show a steady decline in the number of buildings and structures at risk. This year we are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Heritage at Risk Register and we are delighted to have helped to save a total of 1,326 entries which were on our first national Register, complied and published twenty years ago. This means that nearly two thirds of the original 1,930 entries on the 1998 Register have now been removed from it.

We add new entries to the Register every year, which is why the overall number of buildings and structures at risk has only fallen to 1,489.

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

The challenge ahead

There are still significant challenges, with 604 historic buildings and structures still at risk after twenty years of being identified as such. These buildings and structures appeared in our very first national Register in 1998.

Our big challenges are:

  • 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 which are capable of use but which 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 Heritage Lottery Fund, charitable trusts, private investors and developers are all key partners.

Builders in the Alexandra Palace theatre. Shot shows the venue's magnificent ceiling and stage area.
Alexandra Palace, fondly known as 'the people's palace', is a rare survival of a large-scale Victorian exhibition and entertainment complex. The Grade II listed building has been included on the London Heritage at Risk Register for over 20 years, but it has recently reached a significant milestone: with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Haringey Council, the Victorian theatre has been meticulously restored. © Historic England DP232574

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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