Hundreds of town halls, libraries and magistrates courts are at risk of destruction and decay according to research issued by English Heritage (EH) last week and the number is rising.
EH's Buildings at Risk Register for 2000 shows that one third of all vulnerable buildings which have been added to the list this year are owned by local authorities or central government. The news came emerged that Birmingham's Grade I-listed town hall needs £20 million to secure its future. Birmingham City Council will hear next month if it has won a £13 million Heritage Lottery grant to add to the £7 million being provided by the city council and private backers. The funds needed for this single job dwarf those available from EH itself. During the past year EHhas made grants totalling £6.6 million to buildings on the register all over the country.
The total subsidy needed to repair all the buildings onto the register is £400 million.
But EH chairman Sir Neil Cossons blamed the decline of public buildings on the reorganisation of local government. 'A large number of town halls have been made redundant by the consolidation of council services into new authorities, ' he said. Many of these buildings are today standing empty, their architectural quality struggling to assert itself through peeling paint and crumbling masonry.'
Cossons admitted that most local authorities do not have the cash to plough into costly renovations. But he delivered the owners of civic buildings an ultimatum: repair the building or sell up.
Buildings new to the register include swimming pools at City University in London and at Schriber House, Camden. The Abbey Mills pumping station in Newham features alongside Durham Castle.
There are 1625 buildings known to be at risk and 141 new buildings were added this year.