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Heritage Lab, Ramsgate
Heritage Lab, Ramsgate

Additional Heritage Development Trusts awards announced:

28 April 2021

Three more towns in England to pilot Heritage Development Trusts

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) today announces three additional awards in its Heritage Development Trust (HDT) programme, to organisations leading heritage-led regeneration projects in towns in England. The grants form part of the AHF’s Transforming Places through Heritage programme, which focuses on high street and town centre renewal and are funded through the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

In 2019, the AHF awarded its first four HDT grants, which provide term-limited flexible revenue funding to kick start growth and build organisational resilience, to Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, Historic Coventry Trust, Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust, and Valley Heritage in the Rossendale Valley of Lancashire. Since then, the AHF has worked with these dynamic and distinct organisations to understand the innovations each brings to heritage regeneration projects and forge replicable models that can be adapted for use across the UK.

Thanks to this initial work, the initial HDTs are defining how – through reimagining, conserving, and adapting historic buildings – groups can make a vital contribution to the new futures that are required for so many town centres.

Each organisation is a not-for-profit, multi-building developer and owner that works with partners in local government and the third sector to engage communities, harness specialist skills and resources, and convert neglected buildings into sustainable assets that provide a foundation for economic, social and cultural resurgence. They are developing a range of uses - from affordable housing to creative work units and revitalised retail spaces. And they are also taking into community ownership a number of key public and private historic buildings, helping to provide long term solutions, in partnership with their communities. 

For more on the HDT concept see a short film here.

The AHF’s HDT grants offer support to these organisations as they undertake one or more significant historic building regeneration projects and develop a clear action plan for building a portfolio of heritage assets. During the grant period, the organisation is expected to diversify and grow their income stream, develop partnerships with a range of local stakeholders, and emerge in a position to play a leadership role in developing heritage- and community-led regeneration within their communities.

Just over one year into the three-year pilot programme, the initial four HDTs have demonstrated significant growth, from expanding their teams, their partnerships and the number of projects under development to improving their governance, communications and financial reporting. Each organisation is also having ever-greater impact within their towns and regions. Because HDTs offer so much potential for renewal and recovery, the AHF is especially pleased to announce further awards as communities rebuild post-COVID.

Matthew Mckeague, Chief Executive of the AHF, said:

“Heritage Development Trusts can play an important leadership role in town centre regeneration programmes, alongside public and private sectors. These pilot programmes, including the three new ones announced today, are helping to develop projects around complex historic buildings, working in partnership to transition places away from retail dominated models and demonstrating the important role for community ownership in revitalising town centres. We at the Architectural Heritage Fund believe the Heritage Development Trust model can be replicated across the UK, to help build a network of sustainable organisations that can partner with local government, social enterprises, charities and community businesses to help renew communities and secure key spaces and services within town centres.”

The following organisations have each received a two-year, flexible revenue grant of £30,000 per annum. They will also receive ongoing advice from a team of expert consultants and be supported as a peer-learning group with the existing HDTs:


Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust

Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust

Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust

Established in 2016, Heart of Hastings CLT works with a network of local partner organisations to deliver community-led housing and workspaces – critical, identified needs within the Hastings Commons area. The Trust is Lead Partner in the Trinity Triangle High Street Heritage Action Zone, one of 67 zones across the country working with Historic England to renew historic high streets.

James Leathers, Executive Director of Heart of Hastings CLT, said:

“Heart of Hastings is delighted to join the Architectural Heritage Fund’s Heritage Development Trust programme. It gives us a firm foundation underpinning our work to tackle dereliction and create new uses for our high streets. With its connections between Heritage Development Trusts all across the country, we will all benefit from exciting ideas, learning and encouragement to overcome the challenges on the way.”


Heritage Lincolnshire

Heritage Lincolnshire

Heritage Lincolnshire

For more than three decades, Heritage Lincolnshire has led the conservation and adaptation of historic buildings. Working closely with local authority partners, the organisation has developed a training and mentoring scheme to support community groups to take forward their own projects, while spearheading complex projects including the Old King’s Head pub in Kirton and the 13th-century, Grade I-listed Greyfriars in Lincoln. Heritage Lincolnshire will focus during its HDT on building its portfolio and diversifying its income, largely through partnerships it is developing to regenerate historic buildings within the medieval market town of Boston.

Greg Pickup, Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Lincolnshire, said:

“Our historic town-centres have really suffered. This funding provides an exciting opportunity for us to reimagine the incredible heritage of a town like Boston and be at the heart of its future transformation.”


Heritage Lab, Ramsgate

Heritage Lab, a social enterprise start-up, was established only in 2018, with the aim to unlock the social and economic potential of Ramsgate’s rich history, safeguarding many of the hundreds of local historic buildings and sites at risk and providing them with new purpose.

Rob Kenyon, Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Lab, said:

“We’re absolutely delighted to have been awarded this grant, which will give us the ability to focus on delivering our projects more quickly.”

For further information please contact: / 020 7925 0199

Notes to Editors:

The Architectural Heritage Fund was established in 1976 to support charities and social enterprises to conserve historic buildings and adapt them for reuse by their communities. The AHF works with diverse partners across the UK to offer grants, loans and advice at all stages in the lifecycle of a heritage regeneration project.

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