An initiative to safeguard historic but endangered green spaces has been launched by English Heritage, which wants to run pilot surveys that could lead to desperately needed funding.
The possible lifeline forms part of a wider plan launched by English Heritage last week to improve care of grade II listed buildings and gardens, which make up more than nine-tenths of listed properties but to date have not been covered by its Heritage at Risk Register.
Director of heritage protection and planning Edward Impey said each of the nine-15 pilots outside London would attract £20,000 so councils and community groups could survey conditions of landscapes and buildings and explore the costs of repairs and grant options.
Almost 100 of England’s 1,617 registered parks and gardens are at risk, he added. But grant funding for English Heritage has fallen from £30m to £12.5 in 14 years. Impey said there are 345,000 grade II properties and the group cannot undertake the work alone.
Sites at risk include parks, gardens, cemeteries, battlefields and buildings. High-priority areas are Flaybrick Memorial Gardens, a cemetery turned public garden in poor condition in Wirrall, and Winter Gardens in Ade-laide Street, Blackpool.
"Results of surveys will help all parties including the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and other grant givers to get rescues underway where nothing has been happening for years," said Impey. "It isn’t just bean-counting, it works."
HLF director of operations Bob Bewley said highlighting heritage landscapes via the register and pilot surveys shows how important sites are and could be a "stepping stone to funding". He added that the HLF is preparing to launch a project called Heritage Enterprise.
"Details have not been finalised but the point is to build more private- and public-sector links to make things happen in a way they haven’t before. It is due for launch in April." For further details, see www.english-
"We need help and are prepared to fund nine-15 pilot surveys with local authorities, national parks and heritage and community groups as partners. For local authorities hard-pressed by cuts, or other groups who come forward, this means the chance to find out what most needs their scarce resources. And the results will help all parties involved, including the Heritage Lottery Fund and other grant givers, to get rescues underway."
Simon Thurley, chief executive, English Heritage