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Growing risk of decay at historic listed buildings

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 12, 2012

The at-risk former Bridewell Police Station in central Bristol

The at-risk former Bridewell Police Station in central Bristol

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The number of Grade I and Grade II* listed buildings on the English Heritage ‘At Risk’ list in the South West is rising as the economic climate leaves others vulnerable too.

Officials are now calling on the public to help survey the region’s 82,264 Grade II listed buildings as the risk of neglect grows.

Old stone and brick buildings are the glory of the West, and a substantial tourist attraction, but not all owners are able or willing to respect their age and keep them safe from neglect, decay or dereliction.

English Heritage’s annual risk register of Grade I and Grade II* properties shows 159 in the South West at risk, along with 1,412 scheduled monuments, 38 places of worship, 18 registered parks and gardens and 83 conservation areas.

Last year English Heritage rescued eight Grade I and II* properties in the region.

Among the successes was Southgate Street Conservation Area in Gloucester which will be regenerated as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund Townscape Heritage Initiative, and the repair of Sandsfoot Castle, Weymouth.

Commenting on the ambitious bid to assess Grade II buildings Andrew Vine, English Heritage planning director for the South West said:“Just over 82,000 Grade II buildings is not a large number in relation to all the buildings in the South West but it is too many for English Heritage to survey on its own. “We need help from local authorities, national parks, heritage and community groups to find the most efficient way of conducting such an exercise. We’re prepared to fund nine to 15 pilot surveys around the country.”

Grade II buildings already known to be at risk include the former Baily’s Tannery and Leather Working Factory, Glastonbury, identified as ‘at risk’ by Mendip District Council in 2006.

The late 19th century glove factory is vacant, its roof is in poor condition so the building is slowly deteriorating.

The former Bridewell police station, in Broadmead, Bristol – no longer owned by police – is a Grade II property which Bristol City Council placed on its local buildings at risk register when it became vacant.

Dating from 1928 it is now boarded up, and suffering from damp and vandalism. Proposals for a new use are being explored.

The Tollhouse, at Ilminster, built under an 1807 Act of Parliament to collect tolls on the Honition and Ilminster Turnpike Road is also seen as at risk.

Now vacant it has been targeted by thieves but is boarded up and for sale and there are plans to bring it back into domestic or office use, and the owner is seeking to address its small garden and lack of off-street parking.

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