Crumbling heritage sites have £1bn of outstanding repairs

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The Independent Online

A backlog of more than £1bn in outstanding repairs at listed places of worship and charitably and privately owned heritage sites is revealed in a report published today. Yet spending per head on heritage in England is less than in other European countries, including Germany, Italy, Portugal, Norway, Spain and the Netherlands.

The disclosures are in a report from Britain's leading heritage organisations, including Heritage Link, English Heritage, National Trust, Historic Houses Association and the Heritage Lottery Fund, detailing the challenges facing owners and guardians of the country's historic sites, buildings, places and gardens.

The groups say the report presents the Government with an opportunity to halt the decline in the state of historic buildings, to implement a simpler and faster heritage protection system, and to get more people involved with the historic environment.

Appealing to ministers in advance of the Comprehensive Spending Review this year, Anthea Case, chairman of Heritage Link, representing more than 80 voluntary heritage organisations, said: "Last year's History Matters campaign demonstrated the public's support and affection for our heritage. In one weekend alone, more than one million people visited historic venues, and some 70 per cent of the population have visited an historic site in the last 12 months.

"More than 17,000 buildings are at risk in England alone despite the money already committed to maintenance by private owners and public support. But the Heritage Lottery Fund awards are down 15 per cent in real terms during the past two years and English Heritage has seen its spending fall by £19.6m in real terms in the past five years."

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