Historic England emergency fund launched to help region’s heritage sites

PUBLISHED: 09:33 09 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:13 09 June 2020

A building conservator repointing the east end of a church. Picture: James O. Davies / Historic England Archive

A building conservator repointing the east end of a church. Picture: James O. Davies / Historic England Archive

© Historic England Archive

Heritage sites across the region can apply for grants from an emergency fund to pay for urgent maintenance and repairs.

A building conservator working on a church. Picture: James O. Davies / Historic EnglandA building conservator working on a church. Picture: James O. Davies / Historic England

Historic England has announced a new COVID-19 Heritage at Risk Response Fund.

Work carried out with grants from the up to £3million pot will support heritage specialists most affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Grants of up to £25,000 will be offered to fix urgent problems at locally cherished historic buildings and sites which are normally visited by the public, so that they can reopen as quickly as possible, subject to COVID-19 restrictions, and thrive once again.

Historic England, which is responsible for protecting and championing the nation’s historic environment, has developed the COVID-19 Heritage at Risk Response Fund following its own comprehensive survey of heritage organisations.

Transforming the ruins of a historic mill complex from the late 18th and 19th century. Historic England has announced a COVID-19 Heritage at Risk Fund. Picture: Historic EnglandTransforming the ruins of a historic mill complex from the late 18th and 19th century. Historic England has announced a COVID-19 Heritage at Risk Fund. Picture: Historic England

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s chief executive, said: “Informed by the findings of our survey, this emergency fund aims to generate new work for those professionals and small businesses most vulnerable within the heritage sector as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, at the same time protecting significant historic sites where our support is most needed.

“It is vital that we keep the wheels of the sector turning in order to protect livelihoods and save our heritage, which enriches people’s lives and is a source of national and local pride.”

This is the public body’s second emergency fund to support the heritage sector recovery from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Historic England will award grants to those who care for some of the nation’s most significant historic sites in the East of England.

A thatcher at work. Picture: Supplied by Historic EnglandA thatcher at work. Picture: Supplied by Historic England

The region covers the counties of Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

The cash will help fund urgent maintenance, repairs and investigations where support is most needed.

The business generated will subsequently help heritage specialists, whose livelihoods have been severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The funding can be used to address problems such as damaged roofs, masonry and windows, to hire scaffolding to prevent structural collapse, or commission surveys necessary to inform urgent repairs.

Work on repairing a roof. Historic England has announced a COVID-19 Heritage at Risk Response Fund to help pay for repairs to buildings. Picture: Historic EnglandWork on repairing a roof. Historic England has announced a COVID-19 Heritage at Risk Response Fund to help pay for repairs to buildings. Picture: Historic England

Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Our heritage is of huge national importance and we are absolutely committed to helping support our historic buildings, monuments and landscapes.

“This new fund, on top of unprecedented Government financial support, will help to protect and preserve our heritage during this challenging time.”

The Historic England survey revealed the serious impact of coronavirus on the sector, and loss or postponement of work was the most common reported effect of the outbreak.

In the East of England, 75.9 per cent of respondents said they had lost business or work had been postponed.

Those hardest hit were craft workers, like stonemasons and glaziers, and professionals such as architects and surveyors.

The survey found 43 per cent of craftspeople and 42 per cent of professionals in the region predicted that their businesses will fail within three months without any additional support.

The fund will generate work for these professionals from early autumn and develop a pipeline of projects.

This is the second emergency fund from Historic England in response to COVID-19 and comes soon after a £1.8 million fund that is supporting 70 organisations to weather the crisis and aid recovery.

Both funds are designed to complement the measures already put in place by the Government, as well as the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s recently announced £50 million emergency fund.

APPLICATIONS

Applicants are invited to apply for grants of up to £25,000 towards a maximum project size of £30,000 for urgent minor repairs, maintenance or development works which must be started before October 31, 2020.

The deadline for expressions of interest is midnight on June 28, 2020.

Those successful at this stage will be informed by July 27, and invited to submit a full application by August 31.

Who can apply?

Owners, leaseholders (with a 21 year full repairing lease), and charitable bodies and trustees responsible for the maintenance and repair of:

• Buildings and structures listed at Grade I and II*, that are publicly accessible for a minimum of 28 days per year.

• Buildings and structures listed at Grade II that are publicly accessible for a minimum of 28 days per year only if they are situated in either a conservation area and are a significant component of the character of that conservation area, or in a Grade I or II* registered park and garden.

• Scheduled monuments that are publicly accessible for a minimum of 28 days per year.

More information on eligibility and how to apply is available at https://historicengland.org.uk/covid-19-fund/


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