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Are we Letting our Property Heritage Crumble Away?

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Are we Letting our Property Heritage Crumble Away?

By - Friday 12 April 2013

Property is one of the primary tools we have at our disposal to see into the past and learn about our heritage. However, across the globe it seems we are letting this crumble away. Castles, stately piles and chateaus are falling into disrepair, taking their history along with them. So why is this happening? And are investors missing a major opportunity?

The Daily Mail recently illustrated how mansions are being left to the decay of time. Lillesden Estate Mansion in the UK is just one example of this. Built between 1853 and 1855, it was commissioned by banker Edward Lloyd. During its life it has been used as a school for girls but was abandoned in 1999 when the establishment closed. Instead of finding an alternative use for the building, it has gone into disrepair.

The sight is also a common one in the US, according to the newspaper. In New York, a former castle-style mansion has been left to waste away. Francis Bannerman created the structure when he bought a small island in 1900 to advertise his military surplus business. However, in 1918 200 tons of ammunition exploded, destroying part of the structure. A fire then ruined the floors and roof of the castle in 1969. It now sits desolate on the island, a sad reminder of what was. New York is also the site of Halcyon Hall, which was a luxury hotel at the turn of the last century before being turned into a campus for the Bennett School for Girls. It has now been empty since 1978.

In many cases, these properties get left to age and decay because repairing any damage to them is simply too expensive. While there is funding available from conservation charities for this once handed over the public, some owners refuse to relinquish their property, even if it is only in part. However, in some instances, it is clear an opportunity for investment has been missed.

Demand for flats in historic buildings is high, enabling landlords to achieve high rents. Redeveloped and modernised old mansions can also go for record sums in the prime market, particularly if they are well located. 

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