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Heritage at Risk: Latest Findings

There are fewer entries on the Register in 2016 than in 2015.

The good news

We published our most recent Heritage at Risk Register on 21 October. Our 2016 Heritage at Risk Register identifies sites most at risk of being lost as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.

This year there are fewer entries on the 2016 Register (5,341) when compared to the 2015 Register (5,478). 

Reducing the number of entries on the Register and therefore sites at risk, is an important part of Historic England’s strategy. We continue to achieve this through the efforts of our teams with local and national partners and funders.

We have been able to remove 435 entries from the 2015 Register for positive reasons. Of these, 406 count towards our target to remove 750 entries by 2018. Of the 334 new entries that we have added to the Register, over a third are places of worship.

Barrows at Risk

Last year we revealed that there were more barrows on the Register.

Barrows are a form of prehistoric burial mound. It is thought that they symbolised not only death, but also life, and likely provided community landmarks, and areas for the coming together and sharing of memories.  These fragile earthworks are particularly vulnerable to animal and ploughing damage.

This year we can reveal that the number of barrows at risk and on the Register has been reduced from 854 to 782. However, they continue to be highest type of site at risk on the Register. 

Infographic showing good news for the HAR 2016 Register.

The bad news

The percentage of Grade I and II* listed buildings, and structural scheduled monuments that are capable of beneficial use has reached an all-time high (45.7%).

By looking at trends, we have identified that finding economic solutions for these sites is growing increasingly difficult. 

We can see this particularly in the reduction in the percentage of buildings and structures economic to repair (13.6%), coupled with the increase in sites capable of beneficial use.

A view from the balcony area onto showing the highly decorated iron building frame and baths area
Grade II* listed Mosely Road Baths, Birmingham, opened in 1907. It is one of the most complete examples of an Edwardian Bath House in England. On the Register since 2005, the building has continued to decline in condition. The continued efforts of Friends of Mosely Road Baths and the Mosely Road Baths Action Group, with funding from Historic England, will hopefully result in a sustainable future for this building. © Historic England

The challenge of repairs

We have seen a significant increase in the estimated conservation deficit of buildings and structures on the 2016 Register.

This has risen from from £475.4m in 2015 to £613.4m in 2016.

Two types of site in particular form a third of the conservation deficit. The first are country houses and the second are textile industry sites. In response, we hope investment in mills will form part of the northern powerhouse initiative.

Bath and music, speech and dance venue entries also have a high estimated conservation deficit.

Of the nine baths on the 2016 Register, three have an estimated conservation deficit higher than £1m, and collectively account for £26.5 million. Five of the 17 music, speech and dance venues on the 2016 Register have a total estimated conservation deficit of £22.5million.

Infographic showing the increasing challenge of repair on heritage assets at risk.

One contributing factor in the increased conservation deficits is a skills shortage affecting consultants and tradesman alike.

This has resulted in increased tenders which then makes the cost of work more expensive. A scaffolding shortage for repair work projects has also increased costs further.

Places of worship at risk

We have seen a steady increase over the past three years in the number and percentage of places of worship at risk in a poor condition, with 77.3% in 2015, and 82.4% in 2016.

Of all the places of worship on the 2016 Register, 67% have no solution agreed which is a significant increase (7%) from the previous two years (60% in 2015 and 60.2% in 2014).


Infographic showing the increased number of Places of Worship that are at risk, with a poor condition and with no agreed solution.

Finding solutions

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.

Interier view of Coalhouse Fort, Tilbury Essex.
Coalhouse Fort, Tilbury Essex is a scheduled monument and was built on the north side of the Thames Estuary in 1861-74. It formed part of defences against the potential French invasion. The site has been modified since, and demonstrates an interesting evolution of military history up to 1945. Historic England grant aid will fund a management strategy and repairs.

Almost half of the entries removed from the 2015 Register were removed as a result of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural England, Historic England and other grant contributors.

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 provided bespoke advice to councils, and we can also offer grants to support the cost of underwriting action.

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