England

Places of worship 'may be at risk' in West Midlands

More than 200 listed places of worship in the West Midlands region could be at risk of needing urgent major repairs, English Heritage said.

A survey was carried out of some of the area's 1,387 listed places of worship.

About 10% of such places in England were in a poor or very bad physical condition, a sample survey found.

English Heritage has produced a guide called Caring for Places of Worship, pointing congregations in the direction of help and advice.

Tim Johnston, English Heritage regional director, said: "Many of these buildings [potentially risk] are amongst the West Midlands' greatest architectural treasures, serving diverse communities and faith groups.

"It is vital that they continue to receive funding to avoid losing them forever.

"In undertaking this survey we have uncovered truly inspiring stories of how local people have turned neglected places of worship into dynamic centres of local life.

"But we are also aware that many other places of worship face very uncertain futures.

"Ultimately, we will add the most vulnerable to our Heritage at Risk register, making it easier for congregations to get help from heritage organisations, local authorities and the community."

In the West Midlands, English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund have allocated almost £25m since 2002 to support conservation work under the Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme.

The £12m-a-year Listed Places of Worship Scheme financed by the Treasury gives grants equivalent to the VAT payable on repairs.

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