Buildings at Risk

Over the course of recent years the Secretaries of State have made it entirely clear that, as a matter of policy, listed buildings should be preserved and that it is the duty of local planning authorities to take steps to see this happens. Generally through the listed building consent procedure and enthusiasm of the majority of owners this objective is achieved. Equally though, there are cases where listed buildings are not properly cared for and it was to highlight this neglect and decay of the nation's heritage that English Heritage first promoted the production of registers of Buildings at Risk in 1990.

Since that time South Somerset has kept under review listed buildings in the district considered to be 'at risk', monitoring them and, where appropriate, intervening to see they are protected or repaired.


  The English Heritage national Heritage at Risk Register

 English Heritage publishes annually a national Heritage at Risk Register. This includes all major 'heritage assets'; Grade 1 and 2 star listed buildings, scheduled monuments, registered parks and gardens, battlefields and conservation areas. The current English Heritage Heritage at Risk Register entry for South Somerset is available at http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/caring/heritage-at-risk

 


 What is at risk in South Somerset?

  Listed buildings of all grades and significant conservation area buildings in the district that are considered to be at risk are recorded in our database. This is not currently published because, although some buildings at risk may benefit from publicity to raise awareness of their plight, including those which are for sale or where the owner is open to offers from potential purchasers, publicity in other cases may well not be effective or helpful while solutions to problems such as difficulty in funding the work or in obtaining permission for an appropriate new use are sought.

Whether or not a building is classified as being at risk depends on its condition and its degree of occupancy according to criteria drawn up by English Heritage. Buildings are added to the database when necessary, subject to these criteria. Cases may be discovered through day-to-day development control work or drawn to our attention by the public, elected members, parish councils.


 Preventing progressive decay 

The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 provides powers to secure the preservation of buildings at risk through statutory notices requiring repairs. There are two types of notice available -

  • Urgent Works Notice - gives the owner notice of the Council's intention to undertake essential urgent works after a specified date and re-charge the cost. The owner has the opportunity to carry out the works before this time.
  • Full Repairs Notice - specifying all work needed for the proper preservation of the building that, if not commenced within a specified period, can be followed by the service of a Compulsory Purchase Order.

The use or the threat of the former is a powerful and effective tool and South Somerset will use this power when appropriate. This has proved highly effective in persuading owners to carry out urgent works to resolve many at risk cases. The full repairs notice is a more serious course of action which is appropriate only when buildings have been persistently neglected.

Bringing buildings back into use

Publicity for buildings that are for sale or in need of a new use is helpful in appropriate cases. Save Britain's Heritage publishes an annual list of such buildings http://www.savebritainsheritage.org/

Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings also publishes a property list of historic buildings for sale http://www.spab.org.uk/

Cases in South Somerset are regularly included in these publications. You can also contact the Conservation Team to ask about historic buildings that might be for sale.