10 December 2004
A lack of legislation together with inhibiting tax procedures are causing historic buildings to fall into dangerous states of disrepair, according to a report from pressure group Maintain our Heritage. Putting it Off: How Lack of Maintenance Fails our Heritage argues that current legislation does not encourage maintenance, even in the historic building sector where the philosophy of maintenance as the best means of conservation is widely accepted. The report argues that owners are not encouraged to maintain historic buildings. VAT is imposed on maintenance and repair but not on alterations and new build. These anomalies must be removed, said Richard Pollard, the organisation's chairman.
He used the example of Great Clacton Church in Essex (pictured right) which had to be partially rebuilt after a blocked hopperhead and rainwater pipe caused part of the tower to collapse to call on the government to help owners make maintenance simpler to manage, in terms of insurance, health and safety and access.
Maintain our Heritage urged the government to promote a UK-wide debate on integrating maintenance into conservation policy, leading to a UK strategy for maintenance. "The government should introduce a statutory duty of care to enable local authorities to introduce a minimum maintenance code to require owners to maintain listed buildings. To balance this, owners should be entitled to financial incentives and advisory and technical support," added Pollard.
The BIFM was among a list of partners which supported the research. The report can be downloaded from: