Save your heritage

London has hundreds of empty historic houses in desperate need of new owners. Philippa Stockley reports
This empty property in Fitzroy Street, W1, is on the at-risk register
This empty property in Fitzroy Street, W1, is on the at-risk register
Restoring buildings is cheaper and uses less energy than putting up new ones. And conserving those beautiful, well-built historic houses that give our city so much variety and Londoners so much pleasure is a theme close to the hearts of Mayor Boris Johnson and Simon Thurley, head of English Heritage, who have joined forces to encourage us to bring old buildings back into use as housing — a policy Homes & Property has been backing for years.

Yet, shockingly, only 57 per cent of local councils keep buildings-at-risk registers for their boroughs and less than half of those get published — which makes it difficult for the public to find out what is at risk near them in the first place.

English Heritage’s new Heritage at Risk register fills this gap with an illustrated listing of all sorts of buildings across the country — from monuments, churches, parks and houses to windmills and water towers, as well as oddities such as bollards and other marker stones — all of which are considered at risk.

'It is bewildering to wonder why we have left these fine buildings unloved for so long'



In London there are 465 Grade II-listed properties on the register and many of these are houses, such as this beautiful late 18th century terrace, above, with its wonderful ironwork and front door, and numerous other pretty houses that have done nothing to deserve their currently decaying state.

Of the almost 2,000 properties featured, it is bewildering to wonder why we have left these fine and useful buildings unloved for so long; but of the buildings on the first-ever register in 1999, almost half have been taken off, proving that there are plenty of people prepared to adopt and restore a wreck.

The register gives contact details for every property. To get your copy, call 0870 333 1181 or email customers@english-heritage.org. Or you can visit www.english-heritage.org.uk for more information.

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