From：The Guardian,Sunday 3 April 2011 18.01 BST
Historic buildings sold off by public sector to meet cuts shortfall
Cash-strapped councils could sell hundreds of listed buildings, warns heritage organisation
Hundreds of historic buildings could be sold off by councils to fill funding gaps caused by severe budge cuts, a heritage organisation has warned.
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings said buildings at risk ranged from Victorian libraries to windmills and detailed some public buildings already up for auction, including swimming baths in Rotherham, 19th century Lluesty hospital in north Wales and the Grade II listedConisbrough Priory, near Doncaster.
The society said other buildings could be boarded up and left vacant to save on running costs. "The situation could well become something of a gamble for hundreds of historic buildings," said Philip Venning, secretary of the society. "While there may be some positive outcomes, [we're] deeply concerned that great swathes of the nation's built heritage will face an uncertain future under new ownership – or will simply be mothballed."
He added that "a steadily increasing number of such buildings is likely to hit the market as savage spending cuts mean their disposal becomes unavoidable".
Other public bodies, such as the NHS, could also increasingly look to heritage asset sales to raise money.
While the government wants community groups to take on the ownership and running of assets formerly owned by councils to prevent them falling into disrepair, in many areas they don't exist, said Ian Lush, chief executive of the Architectural Heritage Fund, which supports local groups. "It is a threat because the number of historic buildings which are being declared redundant by public sector owners—and this is not just local authorities, but also includes the Ministry of Defence, fire services, health trusts—exceeds the number of community groups and commercial developers able to take them on," said Lush.