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  6. Industrial heritage at risk, says new research

Industrial heritage at risk, says new research

Listed industrial buildings are more at risk than almost any other kind of heritage development, according to the largest research project of its kind undertaken by English Heritage (EH).

These findings were released at the same time as the watchdog published its annual Heritage at Risk Register.

The research found that almost 11 per cent of grade I and II* industrial buildings are at risk. EH said this was an “extraordinarily high number” when compared to the three per cent of grade I and II* buildings which are at risk in England.

EH highlighted that only 40 per cent of listed industrial buildings at risk could be put to sustainable and economic new uses.

“These sites typically involve buildings that contain historic machinery, are redundant engineering structures or mining remains. Their future will be dependant largely on voluntary effort, private philanthropy and increasingly scarce public funding. Although not easy, there are countless examples that have been saved by committed local groups as conserved sites in the landscape often with public access or as visitor attractions,” said EH.

Lead, tin, copper and coal mines are the industrial sites most at risk on the register. Textile mills also make up a large proportion, often concentrated in a single place - Lancashire, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire.

EH also reported that the remains of 20th century industries were poorly understood, under-appreciated and very much at risk

In a bid to help developers EH has created a new section of its website which will offer advice relevant to re-using industrial buildings. English Heritage local offices will also, for the first time, publish a list of 10 "at risk" priority sites, many of which will be industrial. Developers interested in taking these on will get additional help from EH to guide them through the process.

EH has also issued a new owners’ guide to keeping buildings safe from decay or in temporary use until better economic times.

In a related but separate development, English Heritage has joined forces with the Pilgrim Trust and the J Paul Getty Junior Foundation to establish a £180,000 three-year industrial "cold spot" grant scheme to kick start rescue projects in places where few are going on. The scheme will be run by the Architectural Heritage Fund.

Read the English Heritage news release and access the register.


Roger Milne

20 October 2011