The publication of a register highlighting the plight of historic buildings in Gateshead has been welcomed by local Liberal Democrats.
The register, published by English Heritage, is drawn up to draw public attention to buildings that no longer have a use, have fallen into disrepair, but have important historical character or significance.
Included in the register are Dunston Staithes, Ravensworth Castle, Hollinside Manor, Gibside Hall and Whinfield coking ovens.
“There is a significant danger that historic buildings can be lost through neglect and lack of use,” said historian Dr Jonathan Wallace, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Whickham South and Sunniside. “The register is an important document which puts public attention on what needs to be done to preserve our heritage.
“Wherever possible, old buildings need to be given new uses and again, the register is important in helping to achieve this. The Government however needs to take action to ensure this happens. One way to do so would be to reduce VAT on repairs and maintenance of historic buildings where it is currently paid.
“Liberal Democrats would pay for this by putting VAT on materials used to build new homes on greenfield sites. The money raised this way could also reduce VAT bills on repairs, conversions and maintenance of all homes, not just on historic buildings.
“Tourism is important to our local economy and preserving our heritage therefore means boosting local jobs and businesses. Without the historic buildings we have, many visitors will go elsewhere.”
Councillor Wallace made a video about Ravensworth Castle which shows the state of the building. It can be viewed on YouTube: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=1N0rYP4BlkU
The English Heritage Buildings At-Risk Register can be viewed at: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.19186