This has been a record year for the AHF in terms of funding awards. We have invested £4m in grants across the UK and made 32 loan offers worth £6.3m. This was our first year of delivering the Transforming Places through Heritage programme (TPTH), our initiative targeting the regeneration of historic buildings on high streets and in town centres across England. Through this programme we have funded 48 charities and social enterprises across 46 different high street and town centre locations in England.
The awards include Transformational Project Grants for Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust for the Grade II-listed 170-175 High Street West Sunderland, a former Binns department store that will become a home to Pop Recs, a Sunderland based social enterprise. This project had been supported by a previous Project Development Grant, demonstrating the role our awards play in moving projects through the project development cycle.
We allocated £600,000 of funding as part of the Transforming Places through Heritage programme to the Community Shares Booster, to be managed by Cooperatives UK. This will invest in Community Benefit Societies raising funds through community share issues for eligible schemes. The first award was to Marsden Grocery Community Benefit Society, to enable them to set up a community-owned grocery store within the town’s conservation area.
We were very pleased to be awarded new funding of £767,000 from Historic Environment Scotland to continue our programme of grant funding and support. This will enable us to continue our model of investing in the early stages of projects and providing advice and guidance to organisations delivering heritage led regeneration projects across the country.
In Wales and Northern Ireland we received new funding awards during the year to enable us to continue our programmes in both countries. Funding from the Pilgrim Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Cadw and Department for Communities Northern Ireland enabled us to continue to award grants for early-stage project development and to extend our Support Officer roles in both countries. In Wales, we were also able to award £120,000 in capital grants to Circus Eruption Swansea, Haverhub CIC Haverfordwest and Antur Waunfawr Caernarfon following further funding from Cadw. And in Northern Ireland, the Department for Communities agreed new funding of £500,000 for the Heritage Impact Fund, the AHF’s UK wide social investment fund for heritage-led regeneration projects.
Despite the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, we continued to award funding to projects. Many other funders have paused in giving out awards and are instead moving to emergency funding and this will have an impact on the projects we have been supporting this year. We continue to work alongside our partner funders in helping those we support navigate through the impacts the pandemic is having on the sector.