GROWING NUMBERS of England's most historically important structures are becoming uneconomic to repair due to lack of funds, conservationists warned this week.
Government conservation body English Heritage said promises to provide restoration cash were increasingly being broken, delaying vital refurbishment work.
Last year English Heritage removed more buildings from its 'at risk' register of decaying Grade II* and Grade I structures.
But those left faced a increasingly tough battle to raise repair cash.
'The total number of outstanding buildings at risk has decreased slightly since 1999, by just 2%, ' says the English Heritage Register of Buildings at Risk 2002 report, published on Tuesday.
'But the underlying trends give us considerable cause for concern. The percentage of cases in the positive categories (ie where solutions have been agreed or work is in progress) has decreased over the past year, because previously agreed schemes have failed to materialise, and fewer solutions have been agreed on existing cases.'
The report says that the percentage of the 1,500 buildings on its register which were economic to repair had fallen from 16.7% to 12.8%.
It urged local authorities to help English Heritage fund repairs, warning that many buildings would otherwise become unrepairable.
English Heritage said the £5.3M it had to repair listed buildings amounted to just 1.3% of the value of the conservation backlog.
INFOPLUS www. english-heritage. org. uk