The top five tourist attractions in Wales are buildings which are linked to our heritage and culture.
They are assets which contribute towards an industry which brings in over £3 billion a year in Wales alone and which is considered to be a key priority for the Welsh Government.
So why are around 3,000 heritage buildings in Wales on the verge of falling down?
Freedom of Information requests submitted by two historians to every local authority in Wales revealed the sheer number of buildings considered to be of historical interest in Wales are at risk falling into ruin.
Most of these heritage buildings have private owners but despite this, if the owner fails to maintain its structure, the local council can draw upon the buildings listed status and ask for maintenance work or repairs to be carried out.
The councils’ ultimate weapon is a compulsory purchase order. In Wales, this has never been used.
Ruperra Castle is a case in point – described as being in grave danger. It’s been called the most important building-at-risk, of its period, in the UK.
Caerphilly County Borough Council and Cadw, Wales’ heritage department, disagree over who’s responsible for maintenance. The building has both listed status (grade ll*) and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument but nothing has been done to repair it since it was partially destroyed by fire in the 1940s.
The castle’s private owner estimates the cost of repairs and development could be £15 million, but his planning applications have been refused.
Michael Tree feels it’s a good example of where the system isn’t working.
Cadw has begun the process of consultation on a Heritage Bill - which is due in 2015.
It might change how heritage assets in Wales are managed. Something which, according to former Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones, could provide answers.
Cadw says that the responsibility for these buildings is shared, and that they are listening tostakeholders.
This summer, Cadw is planning to release a complete all-Wales picture of the listed buildings ‘at risk’ in Wales.
Mark Baker hopes it won’t be too late.
'Wales This Week: Grand Declines' is on ITV1 Wales tonight at 7.30pm.