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Managing Vacant Historic Buildings

Historic England has produced guidance to help owners reduce the risks facing empty buildings by carrying out a range of precautionary measures and adopting an active management approach. It explains how to decommission buildings that are about to be vacated, as well as how to look after buildings that have already been vacant for some time.

Vacant Historic Buildings

Vacant Historic Buildings

Published 19 October 2011

An owner’s guide to temporary uses, maintenance and mothballing. Guidance to help owners to reduce the risks facing empty buildings, by undertaking a range of precautionary measures and adopting an active management approach.

When historic buildings are left vacant they are at a greatly increased risk of damage and decay and can easily blight their localities. The best way to protect a building is to keep it occupied, even if the use is temporary. However, it is inevitable that some historic buildings will struggle to find even a temporary use.

Factors to consider when managing a vacant building:

  • Review the options and plan strategically- how long is the building likely to remain vacant?
  • Take stock of the building- gather information on the building
  • Make the building secure
  • Investigate the potential for temporary uses
  • Carry out urgent repairs
  • Protect vulnerable features
  • Protect the building from fire
  • Carry out regular inspections and maintenance
  • Decide what to do about building services
  • Keep the building dry and well ventilated
  • Prevent damage from vegetation
  • Check insurance
  • Prevent damage and risks from wildlife
  • Check legal responsibilities
  • Check situation regarding taxes and rates

Listed vacant buildings

Listed buildings which are left empty and unprotected may be classified as being ‘at risk’, either by Historic England or by the local planning authority. A separate guidance note, Stopping the Rot, explains the use of statutory powers to secure the repair of such buildings.

Stopping the Rot

Stopping the Rot

Published 15 April 2016

A guide to enforcement action to save historic buildings (3rd ed).

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