Traditional farm buildings, regarded as fundamental to the character of the English countryside, are fast disappearing, according to the latest annual audit of the state of England's historic environment.
That warning has been spelled out by English Heritage (EH) in a new report, Heritage counts, compiled by the conservation body on the back of research carried out by EH, the Countryside Agency and other interested parties.
This research revealed that of more than 30,000 listed working farm buildings in England, some 2,420 (over seven per cent) are in a severe state of disrepair while nearly one in three has already been converted to other uses.
The report pointed out that thousands of barns, wagon sheds, byres, dovecotes, outhouses, stables and oast houses face disuse and dereliction.
The report also highlighted the fact that agricultural buildings now form the biggest category on local authority building at risk registers.
The report also discovered that 57 per cent of listed farms have been subject to a planning application since 1980 and that 80 per cent of the proposals were approved.