In 2013, we published New ideas need old buildings, the first comprehensive analysis of how the UK’s historic buildings are used by businesses. What it revealed was remarkable and paved the way to a new grant programme that is unlocking the commercial potential of unused buildings.
The research revealed that, rather than acting as a brake on growth, historic buildings actively contribute to the growth of the UK’s economy. In fact, historic buildings are particularly successful in attracting creative industries and new business start-ups, which are highly productive in terms of the economic contribution they make.
So if old buildings are so positive for commercial growth, why are some many standing vacant and derelict across our towns and cities? Why aren’t private businesses and developers snapping them up?
Put simply, once an historic building becomes vacant it often declines rapidly. In many cases the cost of repairing these types of buildings is so high that restoration simply isn’t economically viable - a clear deterrent for commercial operators.
That’s where HLF is making a difference. If restored and fit for purpose, we know that many of the historic buildings currently sitting vacant in our towns and cities have the potential to drive economic growth in their local communities.
In response we launched Heritage Enterprise, a dedicated programme open to private businesses who partner with not-for-profit groups. Grants of £100k to £5million will pay for the vital repairs and conservation work needed to convert derelict buildings into new, usable commercial spaces. This enables the businesses to move in and make them sustainable into the future.
That’s the case with the semi-derelict Grade II Listed Globe Theatre in Stockton-on-Tees, owner and developer Jomast Leisure and Property Ltd is working with The Globe Stockton Foundation, Stockton Council and a leading entertainments event organiser to re-open the building as a live music and comedy venue following a grant from HLF.
In Belfast, The Titanic Quarter Foundation is in negotiations with a leading hotel provider to transform the former building and drawing officers at the Harland and Wolff headquarters, famous for designing the Titanic, into an 87-bedroom boutique hotel.
Today we’ve announced another round of Heritage Enterprise funding - over £3million to three projects: Merkinch Welfare Hall in Inverness; Bridgford Hall in Nottingham; and The Bothy in London have all received funding.
Find out more about these projects and how private businesses can access Heritage Enterprise funding.