The Heritage at Risk Programme (HAR) was launched in 2008, as a way of understanding the overall state of England's historic sites. In particular, the programme identifies those sites that are most at risk of being lost as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.
The important process of systemically checking the condition of our heritage goes back more than two decades with the birth of the Buildings at Risk survey. The method has since been widened to include other types of historic places (heritage assets) from archaeological sites and conservation areas to registered parks and gardens, registered battlefields, and protected shipwrecks.
The end result is a dynamic picture of the health of the country's heritage. Every year English Heritage updates the Heritage at Risk Register, which is a list of those sites most at risk of being lost, and most in need of safeguarding for the future.
Pilot Surveys of Grade II Buildings
Over the last year, English Heritage has funded 19 pilot surveys of grade II buildings, with volunteers surveying a total of around 5,000 buildings in both rural and urban areas all over the country. These pilots were carried out by a combinations of councils, civic groups, consultants and volunteers with training from English Heritage and professionals checking the results.
The results of these surveys indicate that there is a vast potential army of volunteers, people from all walks of life, keen to do something about their local heritage at risk from neglect or decay.
English Heritage, together with other heritage bodies, will now analyse the results of these pilots and come up with the best model for conducting surveys as well as an app for recording data while out on site and to make it possible for the data to be published once verified by local councils. If you'd like to be kept up to date with news on the grade II project, please call Customer Services (0870 333 1181) to register your interest.
Why Is It Important?
People regularly say how much the historic character of where they live, work and play makes a contribution to their lives. As public and private finance remains scarce, it is essential that everyone continues to focus on those heritage assets that are at greatest risk and that offer the best opportunities for positively managed change.
At risk evidence tells communities about the condition of their local neighbourhood; it encourages them to become actively involved in restoring what is precious to them and it 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 half of England's grade I and II* buildings and structural scheduled monuments at risk on the 1999 Register have since had their future secured.
Regularly reviewing and updating our assessments of heritage assets allows us to pinpoint trends and explore why change is happening and how we can bring about more positive change in the future.
What Does the Programme Include?
Since 2008 English Heritage has built up an understanding of the condition and management of historic buildings, landscapes and archaeological sites.
In 2011 we published findings on the Industrial Heritage at Risk project which examined the state of England's industrial heritage and the factors that put these sites at risk.
As well as carrying out surveys on condition and management, English Heritage also does social and economic research to understand the value of heritage.