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Buildings and Structures at Risk

Historic England has long been recording the condition of our built heritage. With information going back to 1999 we can track trends over time. This helps us to understand why buildings or structures are at risk and how to improve their condition.

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 1,081 buildings and structures on the Register, ranging from a medieval timber-framed hall in Manchester to a 1950s concrete sculpture in west London.

People reading books in Bromley House Library
Bromley House Library is one of Nottingham’s hidden treasures. Built in 1752 as a smart town house, it became a subscription library nearly 200 years ago and is one of the few still in existence. An unexpected oasis in the bustling heart of the city, the library is cherished by its membership and never fails to impress. However, ancient roofs are failing, guttering is insufficient, and downpours threaten the valuable book collections. A Historic England repair grant, one of our Nottingham Heritage Action Zone commitments to Heritage at Risk, will ensure that Bromley House thrives for years to come. © Historic England DP217202

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. 

Workmen inside Clopton Toll House
The Toll House, Stratford-upon-Avon, is a Grade I listed building on Clopton Bridge. Built in 1814, it had sat empty for many years. With grant aid from Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund urgent conservation work has been carried out to the roof and stonework. Employing skilled craftsmen, the Stratford Historic Building Trust has breathed new life into the building. The Toll House has been transformed from an empty, dilapidated building with an unclear future into a modern office space. Heritage conservation can be at the heart of supporting local communities, businesses and jobs. © Historic England DP196610

The current situation

Our long term trend data continues to show a steady decline in the number of buildings and structures at risk. This year we have tackled a further 17 buildings and structures included on our very first Register. This means that 62% of the original 1,428 entries on the 1999 Register have now been removed.

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 1,081 from 1,428 in 1999.

Over half of the buildings or structures on the Register are not capable of economic use. From medieval ruins to redundant bridges and cemetery monuments, these national treasures lack an economic incentive for owners to care for them. In these circumstances our grants and those of our partners are critical.

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

Leigh Spinners Mill in Greater Manchester
Grade II* listed Leigh Spinners Mill in Greater Manchester was one of England’s last great cotton complexes to be built, between 1913 and 1923. Many floors are disused and the building requires major investment. Historic England is supporting Leigh Spinners Trust in developing a sustainable future for the mill. The Engine House has already been restored, helped by a Historic England grant. The roof to one of the spinning blocks is being repaired so that new occupiers can move in. © Historic England DP174702

The challenge ahead

Our big challenges are:

  • 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 key partners.

Entrance and clock tower of Green Lane Works
For many years the imposing Grade II* listed gateway to Green Lane Works, Sheffield, was hidden behind hoardings, and the elegant clock tower obscured by scaffolding. Now repaired by developer CITU with a grant from Historic England, it is once again a landmark on the skyline and the main point of entry to a vibrant site where characterful historic buildings sit comfortably alongside innovative new dwellings. © Historic England

The on-going decline in the resources of local authorities and the change in funding priorities for Natural England continue as challenges in 2017.

We're exploring ways we can help local authorities tackle heritage at risk and collect information on Grade II listed buildings. Historic England provides bespoke advice to councils, and we can also offer grants to support the cost of underwriting statutory action. As a result, we are starting to see tools such as urgent works notices used with greater confidence. This support will continue to be a priority for us.

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