The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings(SPAB) joins calls to safeguard Welsh Heritage.
image for illustration: Fiona Newton
…Wales is a treasure trove of old buildings…
From its grandest castles and cathedrals to its historic houses, cottages and industrial heritage sites, Wales is a treasure trove of old buildings. But sweeping funding cuts proposed by the Welsh government would put that built heritage at serious risk of damage and decay. We’ve written to the Senedd, calling for them to reconsider, joining other voices in the heritage sector including the 20th Century Society, Historic Buildings & Places and the Council for British Archaeology.
We fully appreciate that these are tough times, but we believe that the proposed funding cuts would not only be extremely harmful to the heritage and culture of Wales, but also to its important tourism industry. Cadw’s Heritage Counts report showed that heritage supported over 40,000 jobs across the country, constituting nearly 3% of its total employment. While other public services are crucial, the historic environment should not be an afterthought – it is a vital part of the culture, identity and economy of Wales.
Cadw and the RCAHMW (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales) are the bodies responsible for safeguarding Wales’ built heritage. The proposed cuts are for over a fifth of these organisations’ already-stretched budgets and are double the cuts to other arts and cultural bodies. These would have a disproportionately large and damaging effect on both these organisations and the many other organisations they support, including ourselves as statutory consultees in Wales’ planning system.
Thanks to part-funding by Cadw, our Caseworker in Wales, working just one day a week, was able to provide expert review of over 200 listed building and ecclesiastical consent applications in 2023. That’s a lot of bang for your buck! Without our input, authorities would lack expert advice and find it more difficult to reach well-informed planning decisions. As a charity ourselves, we may not be able to deliver this important service without Cadw funding.
The Welsh government is due to publish its final budget on 27 February. We hope it will listen to our concerns, and those of others in the sector, in reconsidering these short-sighted cuts and supporting the country’s unique heritage.