Menu closed Menu open
Pop Recs, Sunderland, England. Photo courtesy of Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust. Credit: Paul Alexander Knox.
Pop Recs, Sunderland, England. Photo courtesy of Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust. Credit: Paul Alexander Knox.

Empowering people and places - £5 million funding boost for new Heritage Development Trusts to revive unused historic buildings across the UK

24 May 2023


The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) today announced a three-year partnership programme to save heritage across the UK – by  empowering people to come together to revive unused buildings and support expert regeneration in some of the UK’s most deprived places and communities. Expressions of Interest for this new programme open today.

The pioneering community approach builds on AHF’s successful pilot Heritage Development Trust (HDT) initiative, which supported seven trusts across England with revenue funding grants to develop plans for historic building projects and specialist advice as they scale up their activities.

This new long-term partnership will expand the current HDT programme across the UK, to cover a range of organisations, from small volunteer-led trusts looking to expand, through mid-tier trusts with the potential for growth, to well-established, larger trusts that are looking to make a larger impact in a particular community, place or wider area.  

The new Heritage Development Trusts will receive a package of funding that includes three-year revenue grants between £55k-£70k per annum, as well as guidance from consultants and mentors to develop their skills and knowledge alongside peer-to-peer support to expand their network of contacts, with regular events to share expertise and experience. They will also be eligible to apply for project viability grants and project development grants to help bring historic buildings back into use.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the AHF are working in partnership to fund trusts across the UK because both organisations are committed to strengthening the capability and resilience of trusts in the built heritage sector. Established trusts will be supported to grow a pipeline of projects and expand their portfolio with the aim of making them more sustainable and connecting people and communities to the UK heritage.

As well as grant funding, additional support will be given to develop the skills of volunteers and established groups who want to turn their passion into a reality and revive unused buildings to give them a new purpose and place in their community.

What is a Heritage Development Trust?

Heritage Development Trusts conserve, redevelop and look after a portfolio of historic buildings to benefit their local area. They are community-led charities or social enterprises that work in partnership with local government, business and other charities to bring about place-based regeneration through the reuse of historic buildings.

This new programme is looking to support such organisations to develop portfolios of historic buildings from which they can generate income, ensuring these important trusts become resilient and financially sustainable. 

During the pilot programme, this support enabled Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust to work on more projects than ever before, including regenerating a row of Georgian merchants’ houses in Sunderland’s High Street West. One house was in severe disrepair and threatened with demolition, but through a partnership with Pop Recs, originally a pop-up record store, the Trust has transformed the building into a vibrant coffee shop, music venue and bar, adding much needed cultural infrastructure to the town and enhancing the area.

How to apply

Organisations will be required to submit an Expression of Interest by 9am on Monday 26 June. Trusts that are shortlisted will be invited to submit a full application by September, and decisions on grant funding will be made in December 2023.

Further information on funding, eligibility and how to apply are available on AHF’s website at or by signing up to online workshops in May and June. Full details on dates and timings are available as follows:

Fri 26th May, 11:00 – 12:00

Fri 2nd June, 10:00 – 11:00

Thu 8th June, 13:00 – 14:00

Wed 14th June, 10:00 – 11:00

Matthew Mckeague, Chief Executive of the Architectural Heritage Fund, said:

“The AHF has been supporting heritage trusts to conserve and reuse historic buildings for nearly fifty years, and over that time we have learned that partnership is often the key to long-term success.

“Partnership is at the root of the Heritage Development Trust model – where trusts partner with local authorities and end-users to turn ‘problem buildings’ into thriving  assets that benefit their communities.

“This partnership with The National Lottery Heritage Fund sees our organisations come together through shared recognition of the importance of heritage development trusts to the health of our sector and places across the UK and a commitment to support them to do more in the years ahead.

“We are grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and players of The National Lottery for making this programme possible.”

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“As the UK’s largest funder of heritage we collaborate with organisations who share our vision for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone’s future.

“Our partnership with the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) will ensure that  community organisations have access to funding and expertise empowering them to save heritage, and to invest for the long-term, supporting some of the most deprived places in the UK to thrive.

“The work of Heritage Development Trusts shows the power of heritage to inspire, and to build pride in place and connection to the past, as well as tangible and positive change now and for future generations.

“Over the next 10 years, we aim to invest £3.6billion raised for good causes by National Lottery players and this programme is one of the ways we’ll be able to make a decisive difference for people, places and the natural environment”.



Note to editors:

Within the Expression of Interest phase, AHF are intending to hold virtual workshops to promote the HDT scheme and encourage applications.

About AHF – Architectural Heritage Fund:

*The Heritage Development Trust model was originally one that AHF had spent some years developing and promoting. 7 heritage development trusts were piloted as part of the Transforming Places through Heritage programme funded by DCMS between 2019 and 2023.

The AHF’s scheme, has been developed and expanded from an initial DCMS (Department for Culture, Media, and Sport) funded pilot in England to cover the UK, will provide capacity building support to 10-13 Heritage Development Trusts of assorted sizes for three years.

Alongside revenue funding of up to £70,000 and the Heritage Development Trust brand or label, funding will provide a project development grant programme, consultancy support and peer-led advice and guidance. 

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund:

As the largest funder for the UK’s heritage, The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s vision is for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future.

Over the next 10 years, The National Lottery Heritage Fund aim to invest £3.6billion raised for good causes by National Lottery players. It will invest in places not just individual projects, to bring about benefits for people, places and the natural environment.  It will strengthen partnerships with governments, local authorities and statutory agencies and create new collaborations with those who share its vision.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund #Heritage2033.

For further information contact: Claire Monaghan at The National Lottery Heritage Fund press office. Mob: 07894066567 or

Share this item