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Worry that listed sites are being left to rot.

Byline: Darren Devine Reporter darren.devine@walesonline.co.uk

HISTORIC listed buildings are being left to rot because cash-strapped councils can't afford to look after them, a heritage expert has warned.

Mark Baker, a member of the National Trust Wales Advisory Board, believes the trickle down effect of the UK coalition's cuts agenda has seen council heritage budgets slashed.

Councils in Wales have been told they will get PS146m less in 2015-16 from the Welsh Government after it received a PS1.5bn cut in real terms to its funding from the UK Government.

In Wrexham planners will hear next week how the number of buildings at "grave risk" has increased by more than 50% in 12 months from 12 to 19.

The buildings are all at least Grade II listed (two are Grade II*) and include early 20th century works linked to the North Wales coalfield.

They include a former mines rescue centre, in Ruabon, and a fanhouse built to ventilate Wynnstay Colliery.

Mr Baker, who is working on a PhD on Welsh gentry homes, said there has been a marked increase in council-owned historic buildings coming onto the market as authorities cannot afford to care for them.

But Mr Baker said, while the tougher spending climate inhibits council conservation work, it's an opportunity for private buyers, building preservation trusts and charities to step in.

He added: "For some places it might be better that they are coming out of local authority ownership where they don't really have the resources to look after them."

He said other important historic buildings in Wales that have suffered in council ownership in recent years include Foley House and Cilwendeg, both in Pembrokeshire, Hawkesbury Hall, in Buckley, Flintshire, and Insole Court, in Cardiff.

Grade II*-listed Georgian property Foley House is one of the few surviving examples of the Welsh legacy of John Nash - the man whose bold architectural vision is responsible for Buckingham Palace, Marble Arch and much of Regency London.

Built in the 1780s by the son of a wealthy lawyer who wanted a grand country pile Cilwendeg is a 21-bedroom country mansion that had half a million knocked off its asking price when it was on the market in April 2013.

Now derelict Hawkesbury Hall was built in 1801 by local potter Jonathan Catherall - a non-conformist who used the property to hold religious services in his dining room.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 28, 2014
Words:406
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