As part of a wider study run in conjunction with Jura Consultants, we conducted an evaluation of eight pilot Heritage at Risk projects across England that were exploring different ways of assessing Grade II listed buildings. We supported the Jura evaluation by visiting the pilot projects and conducting a Quality Assurance assessment of the methodology and outputs of the projects. This involved meeting with the managers of each pilot project, and going out on site to assess the reliability of the data.
A number of different approaches had been tried, for example: volunteers with app-enabled tablets; engaging with relevant student groups; in-house local authority professionals; and a specialist Heritage at Risk assessor. One interesting discussion thread focussed on the use of a custom-made app on a tablet: this in turn opened up statistical analysis that, when linked to other available data such as census or crime data, could produce projections that had the potential to inform where resources could be targeted to avoid buildings reaching the At Risk register in the first place.
One conclusion of the final report was that a one-size-fits-all approach was unlikely to be successful. Volunteer-led surveys were not necessarily more cost-effective, with high training and support costs, and availability of willing volunteers could not be relied upon across all local authority areas. However, in a wider project, the opportunity to engage with the local community, increasing awareness and knowledge about the built environment, could be balanced by using professional Heritage at Risk assessors to support other areas and provide baseline data.
English Heritage (Historic England)/Jura Consultants/S&B - Heritage at Risk Pilot Projects Report [PDF, 1.1mb]
Historic England - Heritage at Risk Register
Historic Scotland/RCAHMS - Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland
Jura Consultants - www.jura-consultants.co.uk/
The Handley Partnership - Buildings at Risk