Buildings at risk registers : their influence in reducing risk of dilapidation
Over recent years, it has seemed that the threat to listed buildings and unlisted buildings in conservation areas has arisen not only from redevelopment schemes which can be controlled but also from deliberate neglect and inadequate maintenance which is considered just as real a threat. In response to what has been perceived as this threat, English Heritage has proposed buildings at risk registers. The aim of this study is to analyse and determine perceptions of risk and the interpretation of various groups of the powers given to local authorities under the Town and Country Planning Acts. The study examines the assumptions made by English Heritage and others of the causes of the continuing threat to listed buildings, and in particular to test the efficacy of these registers. In particular, the study examines the way in which the registers are compiled and used, and the main causes of the disrepair of the buildings studied. It analyses the decisions made by owners and local authorities, and evaluates the effect of all these factors in terms of the number of buildings that became subsequently restored or demolished. Twenty-four buildings are used as case studies in considerable depth. The findings show that threats have arisen not from ignorance or lack of understanding but rather from the attitudes of owners, local authorities and the general public towards building conservation. The obvious reluctance of local authorities to use enforcement powers against owners has not helped to alleviate these threats, neither was the incentive of grant aid effective. In spite of the reluctance of some local authorities to implement buildings at risk registers, this study concludes that the establishment of such registers is the proper solution to solve these threats. The existence of registers would help in the compilation of lists and full details of all buildings considered at risk: it would help to monitor those buildings that are vulnerable and assist in planning for suitable administrative and practical actions to be taken. Most importantly, it would stop further unnecessary demolition of a valued and recognised heritage.