Historic industrial buildings at risk

A Bristol-based planning specialist, who contributed to the largest ever report into the condition of England’s industrial heritage released this week, says the South West will lose many historic buildings unless action is taken soon.
James Edwards, heritage specialist at Colliers International in Bristol, says many historic buildings need to be brought back into use in order to save them.
His comments follow the release of a major report called: “Encouraging Investment in Industrial Heritage at Risk” commissioned by English Heritage which finds that listed industrial buildings are more at risk than almost any other kind of heritage.
Said James Edwards: “This is a vital report released at a time when there is a growing awareness that many buildings often considered outside the realm of conventional and successful re-use will be lost if they are not rescued and re-used in a way that retains their significance.
“In the South west we have historic industrial buildings that contain magnificent architectural features but which will cost significant amounts to convert for modern use.
“With public funding for schemes becoming increasingly rare we are seeing voluntary efforts and private funding and philanthropy as the major hopes for saving these buildings for future generations.
“We are not talking about preserving these buildings but bringing them into effective use whilst retaining their significance. The report seeks to identify changes in policy that can be made to encourage investment in historic industrial buildings and to gain an understanding on how the type, condition and location of these buildings affect their potential for successful re-use and how they can create returns on investment for developers in the future.
“The report highlights for example that 4% of all listed buildings are industrial in nature, and of which 10.6% of the grade I and II* listed buildings are at risk, which equates to industrial buildings being over 3 times more likely to be at risk than other non-industrial grade I and II* listed properties.”
English Heritage in response to the report are providing new guidance to owners of industrial properties, providing funding for a new Industrial Heritage Support Officer tasked with promoting and managing selected industrial buildings and supporting a new Architectural Heritage Fund grant scheme to encourage local groups to take on some of England’s historic industrial properties.