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Listed buildings at risk

In this guide

1. Managing listed buildings at risk

Listed buildings are a precious part of our heritage. They are essential to the character of our landscapes and townscapes, and provide an important connection to our past. They also offer distinctive environments in which to live and work, and to visit and enjoy.

Listed buildings in use represent an investment of energy, materials, skill, labour and knowledge that cannot be replicated. But, to realise their full value, they also need to be kept in good condition and supported by types of ownership that can sustain them for the long term. Most of our listed buildings are already well used and maintained in good repair by their owners, but some are empty or neglected. Our aim is to bring all listed buildings into a stable condition, beneficial use and appropriate ownership for the long term.

Managing Listed Buildings at Risk in Wales looks at the identification of problems and their causes, and how to manage them through positive action where possible or enforcement measures where necessary. It outlines the critical relationship between a building’s use, ownership and condition, and how the careful balance between these elements can be managed to give it a sustainable future.

Managing Listed Buildings at Risk in Wales also outlines the roles and responsibilities of owners, the Welsh Government and local authorities. It shows how policies and programmes to manage listed buildings at risk can be successful, but also explains the statutory powers that can be used to protect listed buildings at risk where appropriate.

Managing Listed Buildings at Risk in Wales is aimed primarily at local authority conservation, planning, housing, regeneration and development departments. It may also be of interest to owners, occupiers and agents, as well as local communities and third sector organisations that have a vital role in caring for listed buildings at risk.

Managing Listed Buildings at Risk in Wales supplements Planning Policy Wales and Technical Advice Note 24: The Historic Environment.

2. The condition of listed buildings in Wales

A key element of Cadw’s heritage regeneration activity is action related to heritage assets in a deteriorating condition.  We have been working to identify the number and type of listed buildings at risk in Wales. This information can be used by local authorities and Cadw to inform future strategies, including grant giving.  

Surveys of the condition of listed buildings have been carried out in Wales for more than 15 years. Prior to 2012, the surveys were commissioned directly by local authorities with funding provided by Cadw. However, at the end of 2012, to ensure a consistent approach across Wales, Cadw appointed consultants, The Handley Partnership, to undertake an all-Wales condition review of listed buildings over a five-year rolling period, surveying approximately 20 per cent of listed buildings stock in Wales per year. The programme of surveys will ensure that the condition of all 30,000 listed buildings in Wales during this period is assessed using consistent methodology.

An update report for 2015 has now been produced and is available below. The report illustrates that the trend for buildings at risk is moving in the right direction. The number of buildings in an ‘at risk’ or ‘vulnerable’ condition has decreased since the last comparable data available (2013) and the percentage of buildings at risk has fallen from 8.92 per cent to 8.54 per cent. This figure is calculated using existing survey data and the most up-to-date data available from the 20 per cent of the building stock which has been re-surveyed in the past year.

Local planning authorities have powers for listed buildings in their area – they can serve statutory notices if they are concerned about the condition of a listed building and this survey work will enable a local planning authority to target individual buildings at risk in its locality. Cadw is able to offer grant for repairs to listed buildings at risk, as do some local authorities across Wales and the data from this survey work will be utilised to ensure that the grants offered are focused on those buildings most at risk across Wales.