Warning Cuts Put Heritage at Risk; Our Historic Assets Are under Threat

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson

LOOMING cuts and the economic climate have emerged as an added threat to the North East's heritage buildings.

The region has double the national average of at risk Grade I and Grade II-star listed structures - the cream of its historic assets.

A total of 75 of these top buildings are under threat in the North East, it was revealed yesterday, when English Heritage unveiled its annual at-risk register against the backdrop of the interior of the Grade I-listed Journal Tyne Theatre in Newcastle.

The resister shows that in the region: 6.6% of Grade I and II-star buildings are at risk compared to 3.1% nationally. Twenty conservation areas at considered to be at risk.

A total of 198 scheduled ancient monuments, many prehistoric, are at risk.

"The financial climate is of deep concern and there is a danger that adverse economic conditions may continue to suppress the investment needed to repair and reuse heritage assets," said Carol Pyrah, English Heritage planning and development director. Several projects in the region remain on hold for this reason.

"Yet past evidence shows that investing in historic sites can be a powerful trigger in revitalising communities."

Kate Wilson, Newcastle-based English Heritage inspector of ancient monuments, said: "We suspect that in two or three years time we will see more structures at risk because people are tightening their belts and may not realise a little maintenance is going to make all the difference in the long term. Big projects are also going to find funding difficult to come by and local authorities won't be in a position to help."

But English Heritage has a pounds 1.4m regional budget this year and last year gave pounds 1.2m in regional grants. …


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