Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Written Evidence


  A full inventory of Britain's heritage would need to range far and wide to capture different groups' and communities' views on what should be saved for the future. Organisations who classify the UK's heritage have identified and quantified some of the main risks to and pressures on the UK's heritage today, and their conclusions should inform all heritage sector activity.


  In the UK there are around:

    —  450,000 listed buildings, 10,000 conservation areas and 25 World Heritage Sites;

    —  1,200 designated ships and over 7,000 historic locomotives and items of rolling stock;

    —  60 preserved railways and 3,200 kilometres of canals and inland waterways;

    —  around 2,500 parks of historic value;

    —  3,500 historic cemeteries, of which only 114 are registered;

    —  21% of buildings pre-date 1919; less than 5% of the UK building stock is listed;

    —  391 species and 45 habitats with biodiversity action plans;

    —  over 4,000 Sites of Special Scientific Interest in England, over half of which (by area) are internationally important;

    —  41 AONBs in England and Wales; 9 AONBS in Northern Ireland and 40 National Scenic Areas in Scotland; 14 national parks in the UK;

    —  2,500 registered museums that look after 170 million objects;

    —  2,000 archives and 12,000 libraries; and

    —  assets such as language or oral history which can never be quantified, but are a vital part of our heritage.


    —  Around 20,000 listed buildings across the UK are "at risk".

    —  One in 10 parish churches has been closed since 1969.

    —  38% of habitats and 25% of species are in decline; nearly half of all SSSIs in England are in unfavourable condition.

    —  20% of our most important large historic ships are at risk.

    —  Nearly half of all rural vernacular buildings in Northern Ireland have been lost since 1909.

    —  Nearly half of our historic parkland has disappeared in the last 75 years, and in some areas it is as much as 70%. Golf developments, the break-up of country estates and changing patterns of agriculture have all contributed to this loss.

    —  One in 10 archives in England is in a building that is not fit for purpose.

    —  One archaeological site of interest been lost every day since 1945 in England alone.

    —  The National Trust has identified around 500 archaeological sites, 38 parks and gardens and 600km of coastline in their ownership that will be vulnerable to sea level rise.

    —  There are still 800km of derelict inland waterways.


    —  The largest producer of waste in the UK is demolition and construction which produces 24% of the annual 434 million tonnes.

    —  For every inhabitant in the UK, six tonnes of building materials are used every year.

    —  It takes the energy equivalent of a gallon of petrol to manufacture six bricks. The embodied energy in the bricks of a typical Victorian terraced house would drive a car more than ten times around the world. Reusing historic buildings can significantly reduce energy consumption.


    —  There are few incentives to maintain heritage; lower VAT on new construction means that it can be cheaper to build a new building than repair an old one.

    —  Local authority park maintenance budgets have fallen by 20% since 1980.

    —  Half of historic buses are kept in the open air; without covered storage, buses, planes, boats and trains deteriorate rapidly.

    —  Traditional local materials such as stone or iron are increasingly difficult to source.

    —  Many historic cemeteries are havens for wildlife, and are important to local communities, yet their management does not take full account of their heritage values.


    —  The craft skills needed to care for our heritage are important not just to the heritage but to the economy as a whole. Nearly half of the UK's £56 billion construction industry involves the repair and refurbishment of existing buildings (4% GDP).

    —  Fewer than 40,000 people are skilled in traditional crafts, yet on current trends the contribution of crafts to the rural economy could exceed that of farming within 10-15 years.

    —  An estimated 6,590 additional skilled craftspeople are needed to meet shortages in the built heritage sector.

    —  There is a shortage of building craftspeople between 30 and 45.


    —  Archaeologists estimate that less than 5% of the historic environment is recorded and 60% of heritage records do not meet benchmark standards.

    —  Biologists lack data about around a third of species.

    —  The Sensory Trust found that after physical access difficulties, lack of information was the most important barrier to people visiting green spaces. A MORI survey (2003) commissioned by English Heritage found that people from ethnic minorities in particular felt that `more information' would encourage them to visit historic sites more often.


    —  Around 157,000 people give their time to over 100 voluntary bodies in England, contributing around £25 million in unpaid work to the historic environment.

    —  Without volunteers there would be almost no functioning preserved railways or historic canals; voluntary transport groups have over 12,000 members.

    —  None of the 1,000 plus wildlife and countryside projects organised by the BCTV, the National Trust or the Wildlife Trusts would take place without volunteers.

    —  More churches and places of worship would remain locked without at least 6,280 volunteers who maintain buildings, welcome visitors, and provide access and security; this does not include the many thousands of others who are legally responsible for parish church buildings and yet remain unpaid.

    —  Without volunteers we would know little about garden history, industrial archaeology or the archaeology of the Second World War—all subjects that originated through the efforts of committed volunteers.

    —  Around 50 buildings a year would be lost without the efforts of voluntary buildings preservation trusts; more would be lost without the Civic Trusts and amenity groups who act as guardians of the heritage.

    —  Most historic attractions would close—around two-thirds of all staff are volunteers and the National Trust would need to find £1.175 million a year to pay for the work currently done by volunteers.

    —  The only source of core-funding for voluntary heritage organisations in England is heavily over-subscribed.

    —  The voluntary sector is ageing—52% of the National Trust's volunteers are over 65 while 4% are under 35.


    —  98% of people think that heritage is an important means of teaching children about the past, and the public sees spending on education as a high priority for heritage organisations.

    —  The Attingham Trust surveyed 400 historic sites; half spent less than £1,000 a year on educational resources.

    —  Only 15 local record offices out of 121 in England and Wales employ an education officer.

    —  Teachers value hands-on access to collections but almost 2,000 schools in England still do not have opportunities to take part in education programmes in museums and galleries.


    —  Over a third of people surveyed by MORI said reduced costs, better transport, more information, parking facilities, and better facilities for children would encourage them to visit historic sites more frequently.

    —  72% of people say that more should be done to recognise the contribution of different communities to our heritage.

    —  Less than 1% of archaeological organisations are Black or Asian; the parks workforce is predominantly white men over the age of 40; the successful Museums Association Diversify programme can only offer six placements each year.


  Addressing all of these issues costs money:

    —  £5.6 billion needs to be found from public and private sources to bring Buildings at Risk back into use.

    —  £1.2 billion would be needed to meet the backlog of work and ongoing repairs needs of 12,200 listed Anglican places of worship in England; this does not include the needs of places of worship of other Christian denominations and other faiths.

    —  Around £3 billion is needed to regenerate our historic parks.

    —  £10 million would create digital access to archives across the country

    —  Canals and inland waterways need around £700 million to repair them.

    —  £1.05 billion is needed to bring historic cemeteries into good condition.

    —  In one English region alone (the North East), the regional agency identified a need for £40 million to expand museum, library and archive storage and modernise services.

  These figures do not include any costs for attracting new audiences to the heritage, involving more people, nor the increased costs associated with climate change.

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Prepared 19 April 2006