According to a survey of barn conversion, Hertfordshire has many of Britain's historic farm buildings that are under threat from disuse, dereliction and horror conversions, the conservation group English Heritage has warned.
A survey in rural Hertfordshire suggested over 35% of traditional timber agricultural buildings from over 20 parishes are in danger of being lost or have actually been lost because of dereliction or conversion.
In a joint report with the Government's own Countryside Agency, the body says there is pressure from developers on buildings such as barns, hop kilns, dovecotes and stables, used or disused.
The report found that around 7.5% of listed farm buildings were in a severe state of dereliction.
It is suggested that it would take over£30m to bring these buildings back into a reasonable state of repair. The Heritage Counts report also said that many more rural buildings are in danger.
The Chief Executive of English Heritage once said "Because they (the buildings) are falling out of use, they are vanishing fast." - "We are talking about thousands of barns, wagon sheds, byres, dovecotes, stables and oast houses - these buildings face disuse and dereliction." - "Almost as bad is that some of them are being converted in such a way that is fundamentally unsympathetic to the buildings and very unsympathetic to the countryside itself.
It was also said that - "Almost a third of listed working farm buildings have already been converted, mainly to residential use, and this can do a lot of damage if it is not done with care and attention." - "... aware of some "horror" barn conversions which were causing the "sub-urbanisation of the countryside".
The joint report found that farm buildings made up the biggest category on council "buildings at risk" registers. And at least 10% of farmers had historic buildings that needed repairs. The report also said this meant by 2020 every such building in the county will either have been converted, demolished or fallen derelict. The president of the Country Land and Business Association, said it was important that private owners were supported in their conservation work.