Historic buildings key to regeneration

Lancashire's historic buildings could hold the key to regenerating run down parts of the county, experts claimed today.

Lancashire boasts more than 5,500 listed buildings, 190 conservation areas, more than 35 historic designated landscapes and 135 listed monuments.

Heritage Counts, a new report published by English Heritage, says more could be made of these assets.

Malcolm Cooper, North West regional director for English Heritage explained: "One thing that can be drawn from the report is there are a significant number of listed buildings in Lancashire.

"In terms of historic environment, these buildings are very important for Lancashire.

"These buildings have the opportunity to help, not just with the identity and tourism of the area but also with economic regeneration."

Lancashire has an abundance of terraced houses, which the report claims, could be renovated to help ease the affordable housing shortage.

Mr Cooper said: "In some cases there are 1940s, 50s and 60s terraced houses which are not fit to live in, but in some cases there are terraced houses from the 19th century which are built very well and could contribute very effectively to life in the 21st century."

According to one model contained in the report, a Victorian terraced house is cheaper to run than a 1980s house because of the quality and durability of the building.

Sir Neil Cossons, chairman of the Historic Environment Steering Group, which helped to compile the survey said: "Heritage Counts is a guide to a true state of what is arguably England's greatest asset.

"Above all heritage counts deliver the resounding message that in our small, over-crowded and ancient country, the historic environment is all around us and that the vast majority, whatever their ethnic, social and cultural background, cares passionately about it.

"But statistics in the report show that much of our heritage is in peril - despite the evidence of its contribution to core Government policies such as social and economic regeneration, sustainability, social inclusion, tourism, education and citizenship."

Today, 32 of Lancashire's treasures have been reduced to such a state they are now on the Buildings at Risk Register. The famous art-deco Midland Hotel at Morecambe, Scarisbrick Hall, Ormskirk and Preston's Grade II listed Church of St Augustine, in St Augustine's Place are all included on the list.

The Church of St Augustine is a good example of an historic building which is being adapted to fit the needs of life in the 21st century.

Planning permission has been granted to transform it in to a sports centre.

Bank Hall, the picturesque country house in Bretherton, near Chorley, which featured on the BBC series Restoration, has been placed in the highest possible risk category.

e-mail: laura.kennerley@lep.co.uk