The West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust (WMHBT), working in close collaboration with WBPT* in Worcestershire and CoWRBPT** in Wolverhampton are proud to launch their Buildings at Risk (BaR) Project. They will be hosting a free launch event on the 4th of August at 7pm at The Old Library, Gibb Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, B9 4AA.
Anyone interested is welcome, and nibbles will be provided. Please RSVP to: BaR@wmhbt.org.uk
There are c13,000 Grade II listed buildings in our region of the West Midlands. With an innovative approach, and the power of volunteers, the trust plans to complete a condition survey of each and every one. The aim is to identify which buildings are most at-risk, usually through dereliction, as this will enable them and their stakeholders to focus support and investment towards the most vulnerable buildings. It will also get people out-and-about, actively engaging with their local heritage.
They have been working closely with a GIS specialist to develop a system, utilising an app called Mergin Maps, that provides a platform for data input. All listed buildings and Conservation Areas are mapped, with Grade II listed buildings showing as active links to which surveys can be attached. Each time a condition survey is undertaken, and synchronised to the cloud, the map updates to show the colour-coded vulnerability of the building. It also flags when each building is due a reassessment, using the previous survey data to prioritise the more at-risk buildings. In this way, the project acts as a perpetually updating system, rather than a snapshot in time.
WMHBT are confident that the project will support the work of heritage professionals in the region, who they hope will embrace using the app. More widely, however, the Buildings at Risk project provides a uniquely flexible volunteering opportunity. No prior knowledge or experience of historic buildings is required – just an inquisitive nature and enthusiasm to explore. There is a 30-minute training module to complete before joining the project to ensure that every volunteer, whether novice or enthusiast, has a consistent approach. It is then up to you whether you dip-in while waiting for a bus, or structure a full day of exploring with friends. Either way, the project will benefit and we will be better able to support the built heritage of the West Midlands.
It is with thanks to Historic England and the Department for Work and Pensions Kickstart scheme that this project has been made possible. The Trusts extend their thanks to Historic England who have supported this project through a Regional Capacity Building Grant and their Enriching the List project.
*The Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust
**The City of Wolverhampton Regenerating Buildings Preservation Trust