Lottery funding for heritage assets

Posted on the 8th September 2016

Old Fire Station, Sunderland

Ben Greener, Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) Regeneration Advisor, explains how Lottery money is boosting local economies and enabling community groups to enhance and regenerate their neighbourhoods by taking on and reviving long-forgotten historic buildings.

“Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.”

Jane Jacobs – The Death & Life of Great American Cities

Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) believes that historic buildings are crucial to the development of local economies. As Jane Jacobs outlined, they are adaptable, and available in the different scales, sizes and compositions that start-ups and growing businesses need.As a funder, we want to enable local communities to repair the derelict historic buildings which blight many places. By giving them productive new uses, we hope to breathe new life into towns and cities across the UK.

New ideas need old buildings

In 2013 we published ‘New ideas need old buildings.  This research demonstrated – for the first time – that heritage is a major driver of positive economic results, highlighting that:

  • Across the UK, the businesses based in listed buildings are highly productive and make an estimated annual contribution to UK GDP of £47 billion.
  • Businesses based in listed buildings across the UK employ approx. 1.4 million people.

Yet up and down the country, there are neglected historic buildings and places whose crumbling facades and eroding fabric have become symbols for failed economies or societies.

Today, in almost every town and city there is at least one historic building standing empty, an eyesore that once took pride of place at the heart of its local community.

Heritage Enterprise

In April 2013 HLF launched a brand new funding programme to tackle ‘problem buildings’ which may have lain vacant or derelict for some time: Heritage Enterprise. It directly addresses the kind of ‘market failure’ experienced by many vacant historic buildings, by providing the gap funding needed to make this type of project economically viable.

By offering grants from £100,000 to £5 million, HLF funds the ‘conservation deficit’ holding these buildings back. That is, where the value of the building is so low and the cost of work is so high that the project just isn’t commercially viable.

Investing in local people and community groups

Through Heritage Enterprise we’re encouraging not-for-profit organisations, such as community groups and social enterprises, to work in partnership with the private sector to rescue and return these buildings to a viable, productive use. We are funding heritage projects which will spur the growth of local economies and generate new income, and create new jobs and opportunities for skills development.

It’s early days, but so far we’ve allocated more than £80 million of funding to projects across the UK, including many projects led by innovative community groups taking on important local assets, including:

Ancoats Dispensary, Manchester

Ancoats Dispensary Trust was founded in 2012 as a grassroots movement campaigning against the proposed demolition of the Grade II Ancoats Dispensary building. Originally comprised of a local group of concerned residents, the Trust is now working in partnership with igloo regeneration to save the historic building. In 2014, the partnership received a development grant of £770,000 from HLF to undertake immediate stabilisation works to the fragile building and enable it to fully develop its plans to restore and transform the building into a new hub for Manchester’s cultural industries.



Saltdean Lido, Brighton & Hove

In 2015 HLF announced a £4.7 million investment to help restore and reopen to the public Saltdean Lido, England’s only Grade II* listed lido. This project is led by Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company, an organisation made up of local volunteer directors who are committed to bringing the entire lido site back into full public use. Since being founded in 2010 the group has successfully secured a Grade II* Listing of the pool complex and won a competitive tender to become preferred bidder to take on a 60-year lease of the site. HLF funding will renew the site as a modern leisure destination, providing the local community with a heated outdoor pool, indoor and outdoor play areas, café, gym, community and function rooms, and a revived library.

HLF-blog HLF-blog2

Old Fire Station, Sunderland

The Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust – a charity founded to promote social and economic regeneration in areas of social and economic deprivation in the North East –gained initial support and earmarked funding of £2.4 million in 2014 to undertake the redevelopment of the derelict Old Fire Station in Sunderland. The station, built in 1907, has stood empty since 1992 but is being brought back to life to house a bar and restaurant with dance and drama studios above. The Trust’s ambition is that the project sparks a major economic boost – creating jobs, supporting local shops and businesses, and attracting more visitors to Wearside.

The future

We knew the demand for this kind of funding was likely to be huge and we’ve seen a tremendous amount of interest from community groups hoping to revive derelict cinemas, factories, mills, warehouses, schools, pubs and even fairgrounds; a huge range of community assets are now coming forward as transformational local projects.

Find out more
Find out more about Heritage Enterprise – watch our film – New ideas need old buildings or contact your local HLF office.

Twitter: @HeritageLottery#HeritageEnterprise

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