The Heritage at Risk 2014 Register is the most comprehensive to date. It records listed buildings, places of worship, scheduled monuments, industrial sites, conservation areas, parks and gardens, protected wrecks and battlefields identified as at risk and in need of rescue.
Excluding places of worship, there has been a reduction in the number of sites on the Register. But more than a third of buildings that were on the Register when it first began in 1999 are still there now. We can't give up on these incredibly important historic buildings; getting them back in use will contribute towards the country's growing economy. As the economy starts to improve and the demand for development increases, we need to push these buildings forward and find a future for them.
Over the past year we have focused much of our effort on assessing listed Places of Worship, and visiting those considered to be in poor or very bad condition as a result of local reports. We now know that of the 14,775 listed places of worship in England, 6% (887) are at risk and as such are included on this year's Register. This is fewer than expected but congregations face a big challenge to bring these buildings back into a good condition. We now know that they face a combination of failing roofs, broken gutters and downpipes and damage to high level stonework with most places of worship suffering from at least two of these problems. We will continue to work with the Heritage Lottery Fund, National Churches Trust and a range of other charities and trusts to make sure funding and advice is directed to those most at risk.
30% (176) of Grade I and II* places of worship on the Register are in rural villages with dispersed populations, making the challenge even greater as there are fewer people to tackle the problem. We encourage people across the country to help places of worship in their local communities, to get involved with volunteers schemes, help with maintenance or even make a donation to help towards repair.
Despite having the most comprehensive view of at risk heritage to date, the state of the majority of our listed heritage, Grade II listed buildings, is still unknown. We are sharing our heritage at risk expertise with volunteers, owners and local authorities to tackle this by surveying Grade II buildings. With this information, a national picture can be built to see how many of these buildings are at risk and uncover the underlying causes. Test surveys in Stockton, Cumbria, York, Derbyshire, Worcester, Birmingham, Essex, Hounslow and Aylesbury are happening right now and laying the groundwork for volunteers to get to work when the project launches nationally in spring 2015.
For more facts and figures on heritage at risk and places of worship at risk, see the image gallery on the right-hand side of this page.