Heritage Watch launched in Uttlesford

Members of Heritage Watch at the launch at Audley End House, (L-R) Douglas Kent, Jamie Osborne, Trev

Members of Heritage Watch at the launch at Audley End House, (L-R) Douglas Kent, Jamie Osborne, Trevor Allen, Brenda Cross, Stephen Armson-Smith, Mick Couldridge and Martin Ford - Credit: Archant

An Essex Police-led scheme that aims to protect the county’s historical sites and artefacts has been launched in Uttlesford.

Heritage Watch has been created to fight crime and anti-social behaviour at areas of historical interest in Essex by improving communication between people who live near heritage sites.

Building on the success of other watch schemes in the county, Heritage Watch aims to build a network of partners and community groups who hold knowledge of heritage assets to share information.

Within Essex there are more than 14,000 scheduled monuments, listed buildings, and registered parks and gardens as well as war memorials, plaques, and cultural buildings.

These sites are affected by a wide variety of heritage crime including; arson, graffiti, unauthorised development, theft and anti-social behaviour.

Members of Heritage Watch met at Audley End House on Monday (November 30) to officially launch the scheme in the Uttlesford district following previous regional launches at Hedingham Castle, Ongar Railway, Harlow, and Basildon.

Douglas Kent, of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), said: “Our wonderful architectural heritage is one of England’s greatest assets, and recent research by the SPAB shows that Uttlesford is blessed with the highest density of pre-1700 listed buildings outside cities anywhere in the country.

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“The society believes that it is vital that we protect this for current and future generations, so strongly supports the launch of the Heritage Watch scheme in Uttlesford.”

Uttlesford District Councillor Sharon Morris said: “I am pleased to give my support to Heritage Watch.

“It is important that we show our appreciation of the people who give their time, expertise and passion to the restoration and maintenance of historic buildings, monuments and artefacts in our area.

“We can all help to do this by acting as custodians of the rich heritage that we enjoy in our towns and villages across the district.”

Heritage Watch will run similarly to other watch schemes and utilise the Essex community messaging system and members are encouraged to work with police to report suspicious behaviour in their communities.