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BOOST FOR BUILDINGS AT RISK
Architectural Heritage Fund Attracts Philanthropic Investment to Save Historic Buildings
Voluntary groups who rescue historic buildings at risk are to get a major boost in the form of a new £2 million Challenge Fund put together with a donation of £1 million from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, matched by £1 million from English Heritage, administered by the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF).
Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “This is a pioneering new venture for the heritage world between a public body with national expertise, a charity with a grass roots network and the charitable Foundation of a major philanthropist. It will specifically support rescues of Grade I and II* listed buildings at risk, some of the country’s most important historic treasures which are on our danger list – the Heritage at Risk register.”
The £2 million Challenge Fund will be managed by the AHF, an independent charity, who will disburse it in grants of up to £200,000 each over the next five years to voluntary sector groups such as Building Preservation Trusts (BPTs), Civic Societies, Development and Groundwork Trusts who take on historic building rescues.
Dr Thurley continued: “As well as providing a financial kick-start, the Challenge Fund will also help to spread skills and experience to more people at local level. We’re asking grant recipients to bring in an experienced project manager to work alongside existing trustees and also to involve and tutor a less experienced group of volunteers who can then go on to undertake another rescue. The result should be more historic buildings at risk finding a new use and once more lending character and dignity to their neighbourhoods –indeed to the country as a whole.”
Heritage Minister John Penrose, said: “Encouraging philanthropic giving is a top priority and this generous contribution from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation is extremely welcome news, ensuring some of our country’s most ‘at risk’ buildings will be rescued. I’m also encouraged that not only will these buildings be protected for the future, but that the process will allow important skills to be shared amongst members of the local community.”
Ian Lush, Chief Executive of the AHF, said: “Currently, of the 250 Building Preservation Trusts in existence, only about 100 are fully active. The rest are unable to find sufficient funds to take on a rescue or lack the expertise and confidence to tackle complex and demanding Grade I and II* buildings.
“Through the Challenge Fund we will be able to marry the terrific knowledge and skills of organisations such as the Prince’s Regeneration Trust or the Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire with smaller Building Preservation Trusts who have passion and commitment but less confidence and who lack specialist skills in areas such as conservation, planning, fund-raising and project management. Grants will in some cases help to unlock funds which have been endowed for building restoration in specific areas of the country but which on their own just aren’t enough. For most projects, these grants will be used as match funding for applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Big Lottery or other foundations or to provide development funding at a vital early stage. We will also welcome applications from other voluntary sector groups, perhaps those looking to tackle a project like this for the first time.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber said: “I am delighted that my Foundation will be contributing to a solution for at least some of England’s 1,600 Grade I and II* buildings at risk and am proud of the fact that the Challenge Fund will create a wealth of new talent in the process. Philanthropy is well-established in other cultural fields but England’s very special heritage forms the backdrop to all our lives and the people who put countless voluntary hours and untold effort into saving it from neglect and decay deserve the strongest possible support.”
Historic buildings saved by Building Preservation Trusts over the last few years include:
Pakenham Water Mill, Bury St Edmunds, saved by the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust)
Richmond Railway Station Building in North Yorkshire, saved by the Richmondshire Building Preservation Trust
Perrott’s Folly, Edgbaston, Birmingham, saved by the Birmingham Conservation Trust
810 High Road, Tottenham, saved by the Haringey Buildings Preservation Trust
Shurland Hall on the Isle of Sheppey, saved by the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust
The Plaza, Stockport, saved by the Stockport Plaza Trust, and
Bolton Percy Gatehouse near York, saved by The Vivat Trust.
Building Preservation Trusts who are currently unable to complete a rescue and might benefit from a Challenge Fund grant include:
Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust who want to save The Victoria Pavilion, Morecambe Winter Gardens
Heritage Trust for the North West who want to save Lytham Hall, Lytham, Lancashire
Bennington Community Heritage Trust who want to save All Saints Church, Bennington, Lincolnshire
West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust who want to save Foster, Rastrick & Co Foundry, Stourbridge
Coker Rope & Sail Trust who want to save Dawe’s Twine Works in West Coker, Somerset, and
Poltimore House Trust who want to save Poltimore House, Exeter, Devon.