New system to help churches improve
CHURCHES WILL now be able to apply for grant money from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to construct toilets, kitchens and other improvement projects to allow historic buildings to be more “user friendly” to the community.
On 24 December 2012, the HLF said it would invest £30million in 2013 “to help breathe new life” into Britain’s historic churches. The money will go in to places of worship across the UK.
The HLF said it was ending its Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme, replacing it with a Grants for Places of Worship programme. While priority would still be given for structural repairs, the new programme welcomes applications that “will improve the functionality of listed places of worship making them fit for the future.
“Works could include the provision of toilets and kitchens, improvements to heating or electrical systems and measures to improve energy efficiency that will enable these special buildings to be used as community spaces.”
Listed places of worship in the UK of all denominations and faiths are eligible for grants from the HLF to support urgent repairs to the fabric of the building with a focus on projects costing less than £250,000. There is a twostage application process with development funding available at Stage One to help work up proposals. Under the new programme, applications can now be submitted for new capital works but these should cost no more than around 15 per cent of the total overall budget.
Established in 1994, the HLF grant in aid programme has invested more than £400million in over 3,700 places of worship across Britain and Northern Ireland.
Crispin Tr uman, Chief Executive of the Churches Conservation Tr ust, welcomed the new guidelines. “I’m delighted that this vital programme for historic places of worship in urgent need of repair and improvement has been relaunched by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The new scheme responds clearly to the needs of 21st-century communities and puts important emphasis on extended use and sustainability.”
The Chief Executive of the HLF, Carole Souter, said the HLF knew that churches “need money for vital repairs, but we also know that much can be achieved with relatively modest investment to help these much-loved buildings reach out to new generations and become truly flexible places for communities to use in a wider variety of ways. Our new places of worship programme will help people to enjoy and revitalise these buildings, enabling them to become the bustling hubs they deserve to be for the future.”
Applications for assistance will be assessed four times a year, the HLF said, with the first application for assistance set for 28 February 2013 for England.