The buildings at risk project, a partnership project between the Cornish Buildings Group, Historic England and the Cornwall Heritage Trust, was launched in September 2020. To achieve its main ends of identifying and championing the plight of neglected Cornish buildings, the project has drawn on the support of twenty volunteers, several regular correspondents and the backing of local groups, including the Arts Society, Cornwall Archaeological Society, Federation of Old Cornwall Societies and local parish councils. Moreover, the project has had conversations (via zoom) with senior members of Cornwall Council, local parish councils, Cornwall Archaeological Society, Cornwall Buildings Preservation Trust and Historic England in order to discuss general and specific cases.
Our main communication tool has been via this WordPress blog https://buildingsatrisk.wordpress.com/ which has published topical features, a monthly newsletter and a list of above 50 buildings at risk. This list was collated through consultation with our supporters and continues to grow as new cases are reported. As of the end of June, 28 posts have been posted which have been viewed 8,500 times by 5,550 people. The blog has had a worldwide appeal and has prompted engagement with statutory consultees and interest groups such as the Ancient Monuments Society, British Council of Archaeology, Diocese of Truro, Methodist church, SAVE, Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, Victorian Society and the World Heritage Site team. During this time we have engaged with individual owners and interested parties about specific buildings and building types.
During the first 9 months of this project we have put three buildings forward for listing (two of which have gone past the first stage of investigation) and made comments on the Cornwall Council planning portal reference to the reuse and refurbishment of heritage assets including Carharrack Chapel, St Day, and Polvellan Manor, Looe. We have had conversations with various authorities and groups who can exert gentle pressure on the decision making process and have advised various correspondents and local groups on approaches to saving and campaigning for historic buildings.
Not having a statutory voice we are aware that we can only achieve so much. However, this superficial drawback has been more than compensated by the strengths of our partnerships. From this we have received good media coverage with several print newspapers covering aspects of our work, Cornwall Live using several of our blog features thereby giving us a strong online presence and features have been commissioned and published in The Countryman and Old Cornwall. We also appeared on Radio Cornwall highlighting the plight of ecclesiastical architecture in Cornwall, an interview that discussed the potential loss of St Paul’s, Truro. This coverage significantly boosted our e-petition to save the building – the petition now with in excess of 2,600 signatures can be found at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-st-paul-s-church-truro
The project is interested in all buildings, whether they are listed or not. We have been clear that this project is not about proportioning blame but to help in finding solutions. And, it’s not all bad news stories! We have covered admirable restoration projects including Millbrook Mortuary Chapel, Godolphin Chapel and Kresen Kernow, the latter project winning our main Cornish Buildings Group award in 2020.
This is just a short progress report on the project, more can be found on our blog – please follow us to get all the latest news. We appreciate Historic England and the Cornwall Heritage Trust for their support.
Paul Holden, FSA. Project Lead.