THE OWNERS of protected buildings at risk of collapse or destruction in Caerphilly could be forced to sell the sites if they fail to take action to save them.
Senior councillors have backed a new proposal aimed at preserving the county borough’s most at-risk listed buildings.
A new survey of listed buildings in Caerphilly has resulted in a “risk register” of 72 sites which are considered to be under threat, including Ruperra Castle and several former mining sites dating back to the heyday of the industrial revolution.
Where listed buildings are privately owned, responsibility for their upkeep generally falls on the owners.
But in Caerphilly, the council is preparing to play a bigger part in making sure at-risk monuments survive.
A report shows Caerphilly County Borough Council’s “preferred approach” is to work cooperatively with owners “to secure improvements and remove assets from the risk register”.
But the council said that “where negotiations fail, owners are unwilling to work cooperatively with the council, and the condition of the building or structure warrants it, the use of statutory powers will be considered to improve the condition of heritage assets at risk.”
These powers range from providing advice to owners, to “enforcing the sale of property where there is no cooperation”.
At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday December 13, Philippa Leonard, the cabinet member for planning, said the council’s new approach was a “firm but fair” way of dealing with the issue of at-risk buildings.
The council will also receive £400,000 from the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund for “targeted” support, but a heritage officer remarked to council leader Sean Morgan that was “not a massive amount of money” for the task.
Sadly, the council has acknowledged the conditions of some heritage sites are so poor they will “not be capable of repair and beneficial reuse”.
“Some are already too far decayed, and no longer justify being the focus of scarce resources to try and secure their future,” the council said in its report. “In this case the objective should be to ensure that an adequate record of the historic structure has been obtained.”