New £5 million fund to help restore historic UK buildings

Waterworks in Medway – the former hospital mortuary which is due to be restored
Waterworks in Medway – the former hospital mortuary which is due to be restored

Twelve UK towns and cities are to benefit from a new £5 million fund to help communities restore their disused and at-risk historic buildings. This funding includes support for organisations in Medway, where a Grade II-listed former hospital mortuary will be turned into a new community space, Derry/Londonderry where work is focused on restoring a number of heritage buildings within Derry/Londonderry’s historic walled city and Glasgow where work will focus on revitalising the city’s rich heritage.

Funds are being awarded as part of a new partnership between the National Lottery Heritage Fund and charity the Architectural Heritage Fund, to expand the Architectural Heritage Fund’s Heritage Development Trust model across the UK following the success of a pilot programme in England.

The programme has already supported seven Heritage Development Trusts to repair, restore and reuse at-risk buildings in their local areas, including not-for-profit Valley Heritage in Bacup, Lancashire. Last year, Valley Heritage restored an empty Victorian bank building into a new co-working space and housing for homeless young people. Meanwhile in Sunderland, Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust has transformed a row of Georgian merchants’ houses once threatened with demolition into a music venue, coffee shop and bar.

The 12 new Heritage Development Trusts will also operate in areas such as Leicester, Luton and Haverfordwest, and they will each funding of between £55,000 and £70,000 a year to acquire and redevelop a pipeline of local historic buildings. The trusts can also apply for grants to support early project development, and will be given guidance from consultants and mentors to develop their skills and knowledge alongside peer-to-peer support to expand their network of contacts.

Matthew Mckeague, chief executive of the Architectural Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage has a lot to offer the future of the UK’s places and people. Bringing old buildings back into productive use will protect our country’s rich architectural past while creating important new homes, workplaces and community and cultural venues. We’ve already seen the many benefits this work can bring to communities across the country, including through the success of our first Heritage Development Trusts across England.

“Our partnership with The National Lottery Heritage Fund is an important commitment to continuing this work in 12 more areas of the UK by giving more people the funding they need to work together to save and restore their most historic and at-risk local buildings. We’re very grateful to The Heritage Fund for this partnership, and to National Lottery players for making it possible.”

Eilish McGuinness, chief executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “As the UK’s largest funder of heritage, we collaborate with organisations which share our vision for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future.

“I am delighted that our £5 million grant funding is supporting the expansion of the Heritage Development Trust programme across the UK – stretching from Medway to Glasgow. This partnership with the Architectural Heritage Fund  is supporting communities, charities and heritage groups in 12 towns and cities, to develop plans for the transformation of at-risk historic buildings – boosting pride in place, connection to the past and investing in the future."