TWO of the oldest buildings in Chard are among the 1,600 historical gems in danger of being lost to the nation, according to the Heritage at Risk Register 2013.

The list was published last week and includes The Grade I listed Waterloo House and Manor Court House on Fore Street.

Parts of the late 16th Century and early 17th Century buildings, which incorporate offices, shops and flats at the back, have been deteriorating for years.

South Somerset District Council is now in talks with English Heritage to find a way of saving the three-storey buildings and bring Manor Court House back into use.

The former court room, where King Charles I is said to have signed a declaration of peace during the Civil War, has many beautiful internal features but has been empty for years.

Council leader Cllr Ric Pallister said: “It is not just that it is a Grade I listed building, we have quite a few of those. It is unique because it is right in the centre of Chard.

“The court room itself is quite stunning but the condition is not good. It is important to the public and it is something that our officers have been working on with the owners over a number of years.”

The owners, Bradley Management, had sought planning permission to convert part of the ground floor, first and second floor offices into flats in 2010 but the district council refused permission because of the building’s historical importance.

The company’s planning appeal was also quashed.

The district council is now waiting to hear whether English Heritage will award it a grant, which will allow it to carry out a detailed survey of the buildings.

Mr Pallister added: “It is a beautiful building but the owners are in a situation where they can’t do anything – and if you can’t think of something that it could be used for then it becomes a liability.

“The dream is to bring at least some of it into use so the public can go in and see it.

“There is an absolute will and commitment to this. The aim is to find a sensible use for those areas of the building that are not as historically important and preserve the ones that are, which are the rooms at the front facing the high street.

“We can’t let this wonderful piece of history right in the middle of Chard go. I can’t say what the future will be but there has to be a future.”