Q: What is new about the survey/research work English Heritage has done?
A: It is the first attempt to capture details on the conditions of all the conservation areas in England to form a baseline of evidence of condition against which we can measure changes over the coming years.
Q: How have you decided what is at risk?
A: Areas that have either deteriorated in the last three years or are expected to in the next three are considered to be at risk of loss of historic significance. Issues such as development pressures, erosion of historic detail, insensitive highway schemes, empty buildings and lack of investment are types of factors which are considered when assessing whether an area is improving, stable or declining.
Q: How many councils have replied?
A: The survey was undertaken in the autumn of 2008, before the new local authority boundaries were established. At the end of December, 273 (75%) had replied with surveys for 5,479 conservation areas (approx 60%). The on-line questionnaire was reopened from January until the end of April and a further 26 councils replied. We have been delighted with the response that shows the commitment of many local councils to their conservation areas and are aiming for 100% coverage.
Q: What are the criteria for removing a conservation area off the register?
A: If a local authority can demonstrate that all the appropriate actions and plans are in place and there is demonstrable progress on the ground, we can take a conservation area off the register.
Q: How are you going to monitor risk in the longer term?
A: Local authorities have access to a database of their survey reports and can update them whenever they want to. We will prompt them to do so in advance of publishing the Heritage at Risk Register each year so that we know which conservation areas need to be added or removed.