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What is the Heritage at Risk Programme?

The Heritage at Risk Programme (HAR) helps us understand the overall state of England's historic sites. Launched in 2008, the programme identifies those sites that are most at risk of being lost as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.

Every year Historic England updates the Heritage at Risk Register. The end result is a dynamic picture of the sites most at risk and most in need of safeguarding for the future.

The important process of checking the condition of our heritage goes back more than two decades to the birth of the Buildings at Risk survey. The method has since been widened to include other types of historic places (heritage assets). The Register now includes:

  • Buildings and structures
  • Places of worship
  • Archaeological sites
  • Conservation areas
  • Registered parks and gardens
  • Registered battlefields
  • Protected shipwrecks

You can find out what's at risk by searching the Heritage at Risk Register or downloading a regional Register.

Entrance lodge and gateway at risk in St John’s Cemetery, Newcastle upon Tyne
St John’s Cemetery, Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne is an important early Victorian funerary landscape. It has suffered from years of neglect and vandalism. Although the burial grounds are reasonably well maintained, the buildings are vacant and need to be repaired and reused. Options are being explored by Newcastle City Council and Historic England.


For the first time, we've compared all sites on the Heritage at Risk Register - from houses to hillforts - to help us better understand which types of site are most commonly at risk.

There are things that make each region special, from the coastal defence sites in the South East to the wind and water mills in the East of England. Once these are gone, a sense of that region's character is lost too.

Our local Heritage at Risk teams strive to find solutions for these sites. Our work with partners such as owners and funders is vital. Visit the latest findings page to read more about what's new in 2015.

Why is it important?

People regularly say how much the historic character of where they live, work and play contributes to their lives. As public and private finance remains scarce, we need to focus on the heritage assets that are at greatest risk and that offer the best opportunities for positive development.

The Heritage at Risk Register tells communities about the condition of their local neighbourhood. It encourages people to become actively involved in restoring what is precious to them. It also reassures them that any public funding goes to the most needy and urgent cases.

The benefits of collecting data on places at risk will become even more important as public spending continues to diminish.

Buildings at Risk has proved that the Register works. Over 60% of England's historic sites on the 1999 Register have since had their future secured.

Regularly reviewing and updating our assessments of heritage assets allows us to pinpoint trends. We then explore why change is happening and how we can bring about more positive change in the future.

What does the programme include?

As well as carrying out surveys on condition and management, Historic England also does social and economic research to understand the value of heritage.

Historic England has nine local teams, each of which has a specific focus on reducing local heritage at risk. They use the outcomes of research and the annual Register to help prioritise where they focus their time and funding.

They work with partners such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and Natural England to support owners with funding to understand what repair or conservation works are needed as well as the actual work.

They strive to find the right solution both for owners, and the historic environment.

See our case studies for examples of sites we've been focussing our attention on recently.

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