Clair Shields – Planning Officer (Building Conservation)
Last year the North York Moors National Park Authority took up the challenge of pioneering a more cost and time efficient way of surveying Listed Buildings (see our previous blog post). This was through an English Heritage funded project to come up with the best ways to assess the current state of nation’s Grade II Listed Buildings, for inclusion on the Heritage at Risk Register. There are nearly 346,000 Grade II Listed Buildings in England, so it can seem an overwhelming never ending task.
At the National Park we created a smartphone app loaded with historic data, photos and past survey results to help our Volunteers on the ground locate each listed building. The Volunteers then recorded data on the current condition and use of each building. This data was then synchronized to a database, reducing the risk of duplication or need for data manipulation back at the Office.
From the nine pilot studies funded nationally, ours was the only study to develop a bespoke app and English Heritage are now developing a toolkit which will include reference to the app for other volunteers to use across the country. You can see the overall conclusions from the English Heritage project, here.
And we won a prize – we were the runners-up in the Campaign for National Parks’ Park Protector Award 2014. The prize (bursary of £1,000) was in recognition of an exceptional project and its efforts to make a lasting contribution to the protection and conservation of the National Parks of England and Wales.
We’re very hopeful that the success of the app and the use of volunteers will transform how this sort of data is collected and make nationwide collection feasible.