AN army of heritage volunteers is to be recruited in a bid to help save listed buildings from neglect and decay.

From next year, English Heritage hopes to recruit volunteers to help survey around 345,000 of the country’s Grade II listed buildings.

The move follows a successful pilot scheme which saw 350 volunteers survey around 5,000 Grade II listed buildings around the country, including some properties in Hartlepool.

Simon Thurley, chief executive at English Heritage, said: “For English Heritage it means we will eventually get, for the first time, a complete picture of the condition of all England’s listed heritage.

“We can use this information to decide how best to deploy our national expertise to help owners and all those tackling heritage at-risk on the ground.”

The recruitment drive comes after the conservation body revealed 69 of the North-East’s Grade I and II listed buildings, 21 places of worship, 194 scheduled monuments, 25 conservation areas, three registered parks and gardens and one battlefield have been declared as at-risk and included in this year’s Heritage at Risk Register.

North Yorkshire has also seen two Grade I and II listed buildings added to the list, five places of worship and four archaeological sites.

One of the buildings thought to be at risk this year is the Gothic, Grade II listed Ushaw Home Farm in County Durham.

Built between 1851 and 1852 using designs by Joseph Hanson, the three-storey farm was used by Ushaw College, but has remained empty since 2002.

While many of the internal features have survived, much of the outside has deteriorated, although officials hope the building could one day house a Heritage Skills Institute.

Also thought to be at-risk are the remains of the Darlington and Stockton Railway, The Old Gatehouse in Jervaulx Park, Richmondshire, and Lanchester Roman Fort, which, according to leading historian Dr Andrew Breeze, was the site of the medieval Battle of Brunanburh in 937AD.

However, there is good news after work carried out by English Heritage and various partner agencies led to the rescue and removal of 20 of the North-East and North Yorkshire’s sites from the register last year.

Kate Wilson, Heritage at Risk principal adviser for the North-East, said: “Many of these projects would not be possible if it was not for hard work of local community groups and volunteers who have highlighted problems in their areas and come forward to help at a time when resources are increasingly scarce to tackle issues such as neglect and vandalism."

Some of the other most important historic buildings and sites in the North-East on the Heritage at Risk Register include the Church of St Anne, Bishop Auckland, the church of St Mary and St Stephen, Wolsingham and Boulby Alum Quarries and Works, near Redcar.

In North Yorkshire, sites at risk include the Old Gatehouse, at Jervaulx Park, and the Church of St Mary, Askham Richard.