Buildings at Risk in Wales
Cadw is the Welsh Assembly Government’s historic environment service,
working for an accessible and well-protected historic environment for
Wales. Cadw is proud to celebrate a quarter century of active conservation
and promotion of Wales’s historic environment in 2009.
Cadw, Welsh Assembly Government, Plas Carew,
Unit 5/7 Cefn Coed, Parc Nantgarw, Cardiff CF15 7QQ
Tel 01443 33 6000
Fax 01443 33 6001
www.cadw.wales.gov.uk
ISBN 978-1-85760-276-0
© Crown Copyright 2009
Cover photograph: Dolbelydr, a grade II* listed late sixteenth-century
gentry house near St Asaph, Denbighshire, following a successful
programme of conservation and restoration by the Landmark Trust
with grant from Cadw. © Barry Hamilton.
Introduction
For many years Cadw has funded local planning authorities across Wales
to survey their stock of listed buildings and to prepare a register indicating
which of these buildings — of all grades — are at risk. A grant covering eighty
per cent of the cost of the survey by an outside provider is offered, provided
that the survey records a minimum of information according to a template
designed by Cadw. As a result, as of October 2009, all authorities bar one
have a Buildings at Risk Register.
Most of the local authority surveys were undertaken by The Handley
Partnership. In 2007 Cadw commissioned them to prepare a baseline evaluation
report which brought together the information from the local authority registers.
This information was updated in 2008 and is presented in the following summary
report. Although the report focuses on the findings of the local authorities
that employed The Handley Partnership to undertake their survey, the results
are generally consistent across all twenty-five local planning authorities.
Cadw has commissioned this report to identify trends and to inform future
actions. It is hoped that local planning authorities will use it as a tool when
considering their priorities and future strategies for listed buildings in their area.
The publication of this summary report is one of the actions highlighted
by the Minister for Heritage, Alun Ffred Jones AM, in his Strategic Statement
on the Historic Environment of Wales of September 2009. A separate report
covering listed chapels at risk will follow. In addition, the Strategic Statement
commits Cadw to commissioning an all-Wales buildings at risk survey programme
in 2010. The results of this survey will not only be of assistance to local planning
authorities in the exercise of their duties and functions but will also help Cadw —
and others — in considering the future direction and targeting of grant schemes.
Sker House in Porthcawl, Bridgend, was rescued from dereliction by the Buildings at Risk Trust. It was fully
repaired and restored and is now a private home. © Chris Jones-Jenkins.
Buildings at Risk in Wales
3
Overview
➚
Trend arrows
A red arrow shows an undesirable trend and
a green arrow shows a desirable trend. A black
arrow shows the numerical trend for cases
where a rise or fall is not important, for example,
for non-usable structures. The direction of the
arrow denotes an increase or a decrease in
the value.
By applying the percentage values to the full
stock of listed buildings in Wales the following
approximation as to the number in each group
can be made:
Number of buildings
At risk — 2,882
Vulnerable — 5,145
Not at risk — 21,869
Analysis of risk status of listed buildings
(2007 versus 2008)
At risk (%)
List grade
Vulnerable (%)
2007
2008
5.75
6.00
7.74
7.55
II
10.45
9.88
All grades
10.16
9.64
I
II*
(1)
Trend
➚
➘
➘
➘
2007
2008
19.73
18.44
17.26
17.89
17.47
17.14
17.47
17.21
Not at risk (%)
Trend
➘
➚
➘
➘
2007
2008
74.52
75.56
75.00
74.56
72.08
72.98
72.37
73.15
Trend
➚
➘
➚
➚
Analysis of condition profile of listed buildings
(2007 versus 2008)
List grade
I
Very bad (%)
Poor (%)
Fair (%)
2007 2008 Trend
2007 2008 Trend
2007
0.82
0.67
1.71
1.48
II
1.95
1.77
All grades
1.91
1.73
II*
(1)
➘
➘
➘
➘
6.03
6.00
9.07
8.92
11.13 10.38
10.89 10.19
➘
➘
➘
➘
Good (%)
2008 Trend
41.10 37.56
43.59 43.44
41.71 40.90
41.84 41.02
➘
➘
➘
➘
2007
2008 Trend
52.05 55.78
45.62 46.17
45.21 46.96
45.36 47.06
➚
➚
➚
➚
Analysis of occupancy profile of listed buildings
(2007 versus 2008)
Vacant
(%)
List grade
1 Grade II* buildings are considered to be more important
than grade II buildings. There is, however, clear evidence that
their condition and use levels do not always reflect their
importance. This group may need a new approach to provide
adequate protection in the future.
4
Buildings at Risk in Wales
Partly
occupied (%)
2007 2008 Trend 2007 2008 Trend
I
3.56
3.33
II* (1)
4.57
4.65
II
4.75
4.50
All grades
4.70
4.49
➘
➚
➘
➘
5.75
6.00
9.33
9.03
9.42
9.53
9.34
9.43
➚
➘
➚
➚
Fully
occupied (%)
Structure
(%)
2007 2008 Trend
2007
59.73 59.56
30.96 31.11
70.56 70.40
65.47 65.47
65.80 65.75
➘
➘
➙
➘
2008 Trend
15.55 15.92
20.36 20.49
20.16 20.34
➚
➚
➚
➚
Risk status
There has been little significant change in the overall
risk status. However, this does not mean that there
have not been significant changes at a local level
or in certain building groups. Care must be taken in
interpreting the figures to avoid missing underlying
trends which can be masked by overall changes. For
example, it may be that new buildings are becoming
at risk as quickly as others are rescued. A more
detailed assessment of the data would suggest that
commercial development has played a very large
part in removing buildings from the ‘at risk’ list.
Given the current change in economic circumstances,
this mechanism cannot be relied on to further reduce
risk in the next few years.
Condition profile
Again, there has been little apparent change in
the overall condition profile. Where changes have
occurred, these tend to suggest a slight improvement.
Although not included in the data, it has been noted
that, in very recent times, a reduction in some routine
maintenance may be taking place. This may be masked
by looking only at the overall profile which will include
buildings which were in a very poor condition and
which have been rescued.
Occupancy profile2
Much of the change in this profile relates to new
buildings added to the sample. That said, any falls
in levels of full or partial occupancy do give cause
for concern. Occupancy levels need to be closely
monitored in the future. It is often the case that
buildings become at risk as a result of disuse. This
can be true, but often falling conditions due to a
lack of maintenance can result in lower and lower
levels of use, leading in time to complete disuse.
This again points to the need for close monitoring
and promotion of maintenance as a way to keep
buildings in use.
Yr Hen Siop in Tretio, Pembrokeshire — an eighteenthcentury vernacular cottage before (above) and after
(above left) restoration using traditional methods.
2 The way in which buildings decline is complex. It is believed
that, in general, their condition declines following loss of use.
This is the case, but the data would also show that an ongoing
reduction in use also follows from a lack of maintenance.
It is difficult to bring a disused building back into use in an
accessible way, but dealing with the maintenance backlog
before disuse occurs may be able to play a key part in reducing
long-term risk levels.
Buildings at Risk in Wales
5
Potential rate of change in condition
No significant decline
40.05
Slow rate of decline
15.60
Very slow rate of decline
12.91
Little or no decline
11.10
Short-term action required
9.89
Medium-term action required
4.69
Rapid decline likely
3.17
Complete loss possible
1.32
Rate of decline may increase
1.26
0
10
20
30
40
50
% of total stock
Changes over time
and action profiles
Troedrhiwfallen, Cribyn, Ceredigion, before (top: © Tim Jones)
and after (bottom: © Greg Stevenson) restoration which
included the reinstatement of a thatched roof.
1 At the current time the way in which the buildings at risk data
is collected is based on the requirements of local authorities.
There is a strong case for putting a national reinspection plan in
place to ensure consistent data and a regular resurvey period.
6
Buildings at Risk in Wales
Due to the way in which the data has been collected
to date it can be difficult to draw conclusions as to the
way the levels of risk have been changing over time.1
A more structured ongoing survey can deal with this
issue and will also enable a more detailed forward
prediction to be made.
By looking at compatible data for areas of the
country over the last ten years, it is possible to make
some initial comments on the changes over time.
Over the last ten years levels of risk across Wales
appear to have fallen slightly (by around 1 to 1.5 per
cent). In particular areas the changes have been far
more significant (a decrease of up to 5 per cent). This
shows the clear variation over the country and reflects
the fact that, while a national picture is valuable, the
levels of risk and vulnerability can be very different at
a local level and for different building types. To deal
with the problems a ‘kit of tools’ rather than a single
approach is required.
Due to resource limitations the level of proactive
action by local authorities has, in general, been low.
Whilst resources will continue to be limited, by making
use of the data now available and by applying an agreed
set of action priorities, more can be achieved than
has been the case to date. Additionally, national grant
schemes such as the redundant rural building grant
can play an important part by both funding work and
by raising the profile of building groups most at threat.
The recent increases in property prices have
led to pressure to redevelop many ‘at risk’ and
‘vulnerable’ buildings. There is a clear link in the
reduction in risk levels and the rise in property
values over recent years. Of course, it may also
follow that the changes in the housing market will
lead to a similar reduction in development activity
in the next few years. This may mean an increase in
‘At risk’ and house price index
1.2
1.1
Index
1
0.9
0.8
0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
Year
‘At risk’ index
Dolbelydr during conservation and restoration: the original
floor beams were retained where possible; a roof truss
being lowered into position; the new roof timbers in situ.
© Landmark Trust.
House price index
levels of risk and this will add to the pressure for
prioritized action2 by all authorities.
The chart above shows the link between rising
property prices and falling risk3. There is no doubt that
this is not the only factor at work, but the pressure
for development sites could have played a part in
60 to 70 per cent of the reduction in risk over the
period shown.
The data used to calculate the ‘at risk’ index
compares change over time for groups of buildings
in particular areas. From this data it can be seen that
overall levels of risk in the full stock have reduced
(as shown in the overview tables), but the index shows
that the rate of this reduction is slow and and may
now have reversed. Data collected during the cyclic
reinspections over the next one to two years will
allow this to be investigated further.
In general, the rate of change of condition of all
listed buildings is slow or very slow (see graph showing
the potential rate of change in condition on page 6).
This means that there is almost always time to adequately
prioritize action to make a difference in the future.
2 Due to the limited resources available at a local level, prioritized
action plans are essential if real progress is to be made. The way
in which The Handley Partnership has collected the buildings at
risk data means that, provided the action priorities and required
outputs are defined locally or nationally, the prioritized action list
can be generated with little further input by conservation staff.
3 There are many reasons why buildings change in condition.
Further work is ongoing to identify these. It is clear, however,
that in recent times commercial activities have played a
major part.
Buildings at Risk in Wales
7
In the case of vulnerable buildings over 60 per cent
of the defects present relate in one way or another to a
deficit in maintenance. Over time, without intervention,
the condition will worsen and the rate of decay will
increase. However, all of the evidence available suggests
that, in general, the rate of decay is relatively slow1 and
it can be turned around with well planned interventions.
Around 20 per cent of vulnerable buildings do,
however, need attention in the short term. For this
group a combination of work to the building and an
intensification of use is often required. Dealing with
these vulnerable buildings in the short term will have
a real effect on reducing the number of buildings at
risk in future years.
The condition and action profile for the ‘at risk’
buildings is very different to that for the ones
considered to be vulnerable. That said, in many cases,
the progression from vulnerable to ‘at risk’ can be
identified. A lack of maintenance over a long period
and a reduction in use levels clearly lead to a poor
condition, a need for major repairs or replacement
of numerous elements and possible structural failure.
Dealing with buildings at this stage is difficult and
potentially expensive. There is clear evidence, as noted
above, that over recent years much of this type of
activity has been carried out commercially. It is not
clear if this will continue over the next few years.
In planning the best way forward to bring about
a reduction in risk and vulnerability in the stock of
buildings, timing is important.
The surveys carried out to date in many parts
of the UK show that buildings at risk can be rescued,
but often during this time further buildings have
become at risk.2 This means that over the long term
there is a chance that there will be little reduction in
risk in real terms.
Condition/defect profile (%)
Condition/defect group
8
At risk
Vulnerable
Not at risk
No significant work needed
0.00
0.95
54.53
Secondary item maintenance needed
0.20
9.39
12.94
Reduced maintenance levels
0.71
11.80
14.78
Maintenance backlog building up
3.51
37.07
12.15
Serious lack of maintenance
3.51
11.18
3.65
Ongoing steady decline
9.00
11.07
1.54
Full refurbishment required
7.38
6.56
0.19
Major repairs needed to many areas
20.76
9.39
0.21
Some critical items need replacement
9.55
1.94
0.01
Many items need replacement
12.87
0.53
0.00
Very poor condition
18.78
0.13
0.01
Structurally unsound
13.69
0.00
0.00
Buildings at Risk in Wales
Allt-y-Bela, in Monmouthshire, was once at severe risk,
but has been rescued and returned to residential use
through a programme of repair and restoration by the
Spitalfields Trust.
1 The rate of change in most buildings is slow. This means that
there is generally time to put an action plan in place before
further significant decay has occurred. This should not, however,
be used as a reason for deferment. Such a course of action will
lead to little long-term reduction in risk.
2 Dealing with ‘at risk’ buildings alone is unlikely to lead to a
long-term and sustainable reduction in the number of buildings
at risk, as new buildings can appear on the register as others
are removed.
It is often difficult to accurately assess the rate
of decay of a building but a coarse approximation
can be made.
The likely future rate of decay of the vulnerable
buildings is not the same for all buildings in the stock.
In many cases action is required in the medium to
long term, which gives a huge opportunity for plans
to be put in place which can make a real difference.
Those buildings in the vulnerable group which need
short-term intervention are likely to form the next
group of buildings to become at risk. Identification
of this group allows formulation of action plans for
them. In many cases, these do not need significant
resources, but instead may lean towards identifying
ways to increase future use and putting these in place
before it is too late.
Rates of decay for the buildings currently at risk
are very difficult to predict as their condition often
means that, for example, a storm or other single event
can lead to significant further loss. Sixty per cent of
the ‘at risk’ buildings need action in the short term to
prevent further decay. It should be borne in mind that,
whilst this is a high percentage, the action required
may often be small, for example, urgent works to
make buildings safe or weather-tight may be all that
is required to slow the decline to a manageable level.
Rate of change profile (%)
Rate of change group
At risk
Vulnerable
Not at risk
No significant decay
0.00
0.95
54.58
Little or no decay
0.20
0.00
12.94
Very slow rate of decline
0.71
9.39
14.78
Slow rate of decline
3.51
37.07
12.15
Medium-term action required
8.76
12.52
2.31
Short-term action required
31.89
25.67
3.28
Rate of decline may increase
9.55
1.94
0.01
Rapid decline likely
31.65
0.66
0.01
Complete loss possible
13.69
0.00
0.00
The Shell House at Cilwendeg, near Boncath,
Pembrokeshire. The dilapidated interior of the garden
building before its restoration; repairing and recreating
the details of the shell- and bone-work; the interior
of the Shell House following restoration; the exterior
of the Shell House. © Roger Clive-Powell.
Buildings at Risk in Wales
9
10
Buildings at Risk in Wales
100%
% of buildings in type group
At risk
80%
60%
Vulnerable
40%
Not at risk
20%
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of the ‘at risk’ and vulnerable domestic buildings are
farmhouses.3 This again confirms the need to take
account of the changes in agricultural land use patterns
in devising a plan for all farmstead structures.
1 The upper chart shows the risk distribution in each building
type group, for example, 54 per cent of ‘Extractive’ buildings are
at risk. The lower chart shows how risk and vulnerability are
distributed across the whole stock, for example, of all the
buildings at risk 19 per cent are domestic buildings.
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The overall stock of listed buildings is made up of
a wide range of buildings and structures. Each of
these face different threats and present different
opportunities. Any action plan must take into account
the different issues each type of building presents.
The levels of risk and vulnerability vary greatly with
each building type. It can be seen that some building types
have very high levels of risk.1 This may, in part, follow on
from changes in the way that buildings are used. However,
in many cases, although a high proportion of buildings in
a certain group may be at risk, this only represents a small
proportion of the overall stock of listed buildings.
The building type data is useful in deciding priorities.
For example, if a small type group has a high proportion of
‘at risk’ or vulnerable buildings, then it may be appropriate
to target action towards the best examples in the group
in order to ensure preservation of a representative sample
for the type.2 Alternatively, to tackle overall levels of risk,
efforts are best targeted towards the building types which
represent the larger parts of the overall stock.
The data would, at this stage, suggest that a mix
of the promotion of maintenance, together with
group- and area-specific actions, would be appropriate.
In particular, a more targeted plan is required to deal
with agricultural and ancillary buildings. Given the
changes in land use, an imaginative approach regarding
future use may be needed, if sustainable uses are to
be found for these buildings. A failure to adopt such
an approach may mean that the resources required
to deal with the issues are simply not available.
The majority of the vulnerable and ‘at risk’ buildings
are domestic in nature. This reflects the fact that such
buildings represent around 43 per cent of the full stock.
It should be noted, however, that over 60 per cent
Risk distribution by building type group (2008)
% of total in stock
Building types
2 For some building types, particularly unoccupiable
structures, there may be no reasonable use in the future.
In such cases retention of all such buildings may be very
difficult. Targeted preservation of the best examples,
together with thorough recording may be the best option.
3 The original use for many agricultural buildings has gone
or changed in such a way as to make the buildings
unsuitable. Often owners and occupiers of such buildings
find investment for buildings with no economic use very
difficult to justify.
Spatial plan areas
Wales is divided up into six spatial plan areas. The
areas have fuzzy, or overlapping, boundaries and they
are a good base for regional analysis. Each of the listing
buildings, for which data is available, has been added to
the relevant plan areas to provide the summary data
shown below.
Analysis of risk status of listed buildings
Spatial plan area3
At risk (%)
Vulnerable (%)
Not at risk (%)
2008
2008
2008
North-West Wales1
9.61
North-East Wales
9.93
Central Wales
1
➘
➚
➚
➘
➚
➘
10.00
2
Pembrokeshire Haven2
Swansea Bay
Compared
to all Wales
8.31
10.77
2
South-East Wales
8.63
All Wales
9.64
Compared
to all Wales
17.83
18.20
17.76
15.55
20.03
16.62
17.21
➚
➚
➚
➘
➚
➘
Compared
to all Wales
72.54
71.86
72.24
76.14
69.20
74.74
73.15
➘
➘
➘
➚
➘
➚
Analysis of condition profile of listed buildings
Spatial plan area3
Very bad (%)
Poor (%)
2008
2008
North-West Wales1
1.93
North-East Wales1
2.30
Central Wales2
1.80
Pembrokeshire Haven 1.13
Top: Whiteford Lighthouse, Burry Estuary, Gower, is
recorded as ‘vulnerable’ in the buildings at risk register.
Above: Navigation Colliery, Crumlin, Caerphilly, is a fine
example of a group of coalmining buildings at risk.
Swansea Bay
1.67
South-East Wales
1.31
All Wales
1.73
Compared
to all Wales
➚
➚
➚
➘
➘
➘
9.34
9.91
11.71
7.72
9.88
8.90
10.19
1 The data for the county of Denbighshire is due for update
in the short term.
2 The data for the county of Ceredigion is due for update
in the short term. The data for the county of Powys is
currently being updated.
Fair (%)
Compared 2008
to all Wales
➘
➘
➚
➘
➘
➘
41.46
42.40
43.52
36.73
39.17
39.04
41.02
Good (%)
Compared 2008 Compared
to all Wales
to all Wales
➚
➚
➚
➘
➘
➘
47.27
45.39
42.97
54.42
49.27
50.76
47.06
➚
➘
➘
➚
➚
➚
3 For areas where data is not available on a compatible basis
an approximation for the spatial plan area has been made.
In general, this is felt to be valid, but the summary information
will be updated as new compatible survey data is added to
the main sample.
Buildings at Risk in Wales
11
Old Farmhouse, Waen Farm, St Asaph, Denbighshire —
the agricultural building (originally a sixteenth-century
timber-framed house and later, a yeoman farmer’s house)
was in a parlous condition before it was restored to
serve as a farmhouse.
Clear differences can be seen between the spatial plan
areas. The differences in levels of risk and vulnerability
represent a mix of variations in the occupancy levels
and building condition. The tables adjacent rank the
areas by reference to key indicators.
Analysis of occupancy profile of listed buildings (%)
Spatial plan area3
2008
North-West Wales1
5.80
North-East Wales1
4.62
Central Wales2
4.39
Pembrokeshire Haven 3.75
Swansea Bay
5.86
South-East Wales
3.61
All Wales
4.49
Area
1 The CEF score of a building is a score between 0 and 100 which takes
into account the condition of all of the elements within the building and
its occupancy.The score uses a weighting system to reflect the relative
importance of certain items and the combination of defects which may
be present. High scores denote buildings with few problems and low
scores identify those most in need of urgent action.
2 The Risk Cat is a score reflecting the risk status of the building:
1 to 3 — at risk; 4 — vulnerable; 5 or 6 — not at risk
Vacant
Partly occupied
Compared
to all Wales
➚
➚
➘
➘
➚
➘
2008
Compared 2008
to all Wales
➚
➚
➚
➘
➘
➘
10.74
9.46
10.26
8.68
7.92
8.19
9.43
Mean CEF1 Score Ranking
Fully occupied
Structure
Compared
to all Wales
62.99
65.35
67.39
66.31
56.75
66.17
65.75
Area
➘
➘
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2008 Compared
to all Wales
20.48
20.57
17.96
21.27
29.46
22.03
20.34
Mean Risk Cat2 Ranking
Pembrokeshire Haven
86.40
Pembrokeshire Haven
5.09
South-East Wales
84.98
South-East Wales
5.06
Swansea Bay
83.99
North-West Wales
4.98
North-West Wales
83.22
North-East Wales
4.95
North-East Wales
81.10
Central Wales
4.94
Central Wales
80.02
Swansea Bay
4.91
Cadw, Welsh Assembly Government, Plas Carew, Unit 5/7 Cefn Coed, Parc Nantgarw, Cardiff CF15 7QQ Tel: 01443 33 6000 Fax: 01443 33 6001 Web: www.cadw.wales.gov.uk
12
Buildings at Risk in Wales
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Buildings at Risk in Wales