Wednesday, 11 March 2009

In praise of.. The Architectural Heritage Fund

The UK has, beavering away, often unsung and not widely known about by the general public, a variety of organisations, national and local, connected with 'built heritage'.

Today, I thought I would highlight the Architectural Heritage Fund. As someone who has had help from it in the past, I can thoroughly commend it and its work to anyone with a building in their locality at risk and which could be part of a community rescue.

The Architectural Heritage Fund is a registered charity founded in 1976 to promote the conservation of historic buildings in the UK. It does this by providing advice, information and financial assistance in the form of grants and low interest working capital loans for projects undertaken by building preservation trust (BPTs) and other charities throughout the UK.

Only organisations with charitable status are eligible for financial assistance from the AHF. Any charity with a qualifying project is entitled to apply for an options appraisal grant, or a loan, but the AHF’s other grants are reserved for BPTs – charities established specifically to preserve historic buildings.

Financial assistance is available only for buildings that are listed, scheduled or in a conservation area and of acknowledged historic merit. Projects must involve a change either in the ownership of a property or in its use.

The AHF has an extremely useful online database:

Funds for Historic Buildings now extended to cover the whole of the UKFunds for Historic Buildings, the AHF’s online database - – has been given a bright new look and extended to cover the whole of the UK, having previously been only for funding sources in England and Wales. FFHB is one of the most popular and well-used resources in the heritage sector, and its extension now makes it even more valuable, with over 200 separate sources of funding included. It is fully interactive and searchable by location, type of building and nature of ownership, and completely free to use. The AHF is able to offer this service thanks to support from English Heritage, Cadw in Wales, and now from Historic Scotland and the Department of Environment Northern Ireland: Environment and Heritage Service.

It additionally publishes information and reports:

Report on the impacts of heritage-led regeneration on communities commissioned by the Agencies Co-ordinating Group (The Architectural Heritage Fund, The Civic Trust, Institute of Historic Building Conservation, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust and the UK Association of Preservation Trusts)Launched at the recent 'Place, Space and Conservation' conference in Manchester this Report, commissioned by the Agencies Co-ordinating Group (The Architectural Heritage Fund, The Civic Trust, Institute of Historic Buildings Conservation, The Prince's Regeneration Trust and the UK Association of Preservation Trusts) and written by Ela Palmer, looks at the impacts of heritage-led regeneration on communities, and highlights some significant findings from examples throughout the UK. The Executive Summary (7.37MB) is also available on this website.

The report's author, Ela Palmer:

(and if you need a Historic Buildings Consultant, I recommend you contact Ela Palmer.)

I additionally commend the case studies section of the AHF site for inspiration. It's not all doom and gloom on the conservation front, regeneration doesn't have to mean demolition and 'iconic towers', beloved though they may be of developers out to make a fast buck and local authorities with little idea.
Here's one, which is connected with the blog from Monday about the ghastly Pathfinder demolitions in Pendle:
Church declared redundant 1989• acquired by property developer 1990• Planning application approved to convert to nursing home 1992• Application to demolish Church refused 1996• Feasibility Study produced by HTNW 1996• Church acquired by the Trust in 2000

Rescue and regeneration of a northern mill-town: Nelson,

The Heritage Trust for the North-West is making great efforts to maintain the character of what many would regard as a typical traditional northern mill town, containing terraced houses and cobbled streets. Like many other similar towns in the region, it has social problems linked to high unemployment. St. Mary’s Church, in the centre of the Conservation Area, is the only listed Anglican church in the Borough of Pendle. It was declared redundant by Blackburn Diocese in 1989, sold, and has lain empty ever since. The local authority wishes to clear most of the surrounding housing, against the wishes of many inhabitants, most of whom are from the town’s substantial Asian population. The trust has acquired the church, which it intends to return to Community use. It has also purchased the school for workspace and community facilities, and one of the houses. It also has plans to restore other dwellings and rejuvenate local commercial premises. By preserving the historical integrity of the town, the trust believes that it can involve the whole community in its regeneration, thereby reducing social tensions, minimising exclusion, and engendering a sense of

Organisation: Heritage Trust for the North-West


Grade II listed church, in St. Mary’s, Nelson Conservation Area
Architectural Heritage Fund assistance: £218,250 loan offered in 1999, £15,000
Project Organiser Grant in 2000

The latest wonderful news on St Mary's is that it is to become a Centre for Traditional Building Craft Skills.

Read about it here:



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