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Home » Business News

Winter storms could put city’s built heritage at risk…

Submitted by on November 20, 2013 – 8:15 am |

Maritime James Edwards - Winter storms could put city's built heritage at risk...Bristol’s treasure chest of historic buildings could take more of a battering than ever this winter as rising maintenance costs handicap owners struggling to afford their upkeep.

That’s according to West planning and heritage specialist James Edwards from Colliers International who says the gap between the cost of the annual upkeep of a building and its overall value is widening year on year.

He said: “Maintenance costs are rising steeply while values are remaining fairly static so it’s understandable that owners will try and save money where they can – especially on the everyday essentials. But cutting back on the basics really is a false economy which could lead to a property being placed on the Heritage at Risk register.”

James, who is based at Colliers International’s Broad Quay office, said simple maintenance checks could save hundreds perhaps thousands of pounds in the medium to long term.

His comments come on the back of the annual Heritage at Risk Survey undertaken by English Heritage which found that simple factors such as guttering windows and doors were recognized as being a major maintenance weakness.

He said: “It is vital guttering is kept clear of leaves and other natural detritus and that all the drainage is working correctly.

“Similarly, simple maintenance procedures such as keeping on top of painting timber whether barge boards or windows or repositioning slipped tiles or roof slates can save an awful lot of money in the long run.  Several months of wet weather can do huge damage to a building if owners take their eye off the ball.”

James said there had been a marked drop in the number of Grade I and Grade II heritage properties on English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk Register.

“But   the difference between the cost of repair and end value is getting smaller making it less viable to bring these buildings back into effective use.”

The Heritage at Risk Register currently lists some 5,700 properties including well-known Bristol locations such as Mortimer House on Clifton Down, St Michaels Church, Georgian townhouses on Portland Square and Whitfield Tabernacle in Kingswood.

“There are varying reasons   why they are on the list whether vacant, fire damaged and so on, but what is increasingly evident is that there is always a starting point for the deterioration.

“More often than not it is a lack of maintenance which leads to even bigger problems for which the owner is then subsequently unable to cover the costs to repair.

“These large historic properties are always more challenging to keep viable as the cost of repairs and maintenance can be prohibitive for some people.

“It is often the case that they get sub divided into apartments and whilst one would like to see a building brought back to its original intended use, this option is always   better   than leaving a building to rack and ruin.

“Whilst it will probably take a lot more than a single failed window to constitute a historic listed building falling onto the Heritage at Risk Register, if a building is empty, simple maintenance lapses can result in much greater problems such as saturated walls or rotten floors.”

“There are grants and other forms of assistance available through such bodies as English Heritage which can assist, work with and support those seeking to bring life back into these properties and which can open up a host of opportunities for prospective owners and occupiers, whether private individuals, charities or local communities, to get involved in rescuing these properties for future generations.”

For further details contact James Edwards, planning and heritage, Colliers International on Bristol 0117 917 2000.

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