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Image: Lowestoft Town Hall. Photo courtesy of Lowestoft Town Council.
Image: Lowestoft Town Hall. Photo courtesy of Lowestoft Town Council.

Fantastic News for Five AHF-supported Projects as National Lottery Heritage Fund Announces New Grant Awards

26 September 2023

Following the announcement of the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s £12.2million investment to help save the UK’s historic buildings today, the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is very pleased to see that five AHF-supported projects across England have secured significant grant funding, allowing them to progress with plans to conserve and restore important historic buildings in their respective communities.

Congratulations to all of the successful projects, each of which the AHF is pleased to have supported from an early stage, providing advice and funding to help organisations develop plans for the sustainable re-use of these buildings.

You can find more information about the projects below.


Image: Lowestoft Town Hall in Suffolk. Photo courtesy of Lowestoft Town Council.

Lowestoft Town Hall, Suffolk

Built between 1857 and 1860, Lowestoft Town Hall is one of the most prominent architectural landmarks in the town and is a key part of an extensive group of historic buildings on the High Street. However, the Grade II-listed building has been vacant and boarded up since Waveney District Council moved out in 2015. In 2017, the newly formed Lowestoft Town Council took ownership of the building and has since been working on a plan to renovate and re-open the Town Hall as a thriving cultural asset, with an innovative heritage hub, gallery space for exhibitions and events, a wedding and reception venue, co-working space, a café, and additional community event space. The Town Hall will also become the home for the Town Council once again, with Council meetings and staff offices. The AHF has supported this project with two Project Development Grants since 2020. Now, the National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded Lowestoft Town Council a delivery grant of £3,257,512, meaning that work to regenerate the Town Hall can begin in March next year.


Image: Cranleigh Cottage Hospital in Surrey. Photo courtesy of Cranleigh Heritage Trust.

Cranleigh Cottage Hospital, Surrey

Originally a 16th-century hall house, this Grade II-listed building was converted into the first village hospital in England in 1859 by Mr. Alfred Napper, Surgeon of Cranleigh. However, it has not been used by the NHS for over 10 years. Cranleigh Heritage Trust plans to conserve Cranleigh Cottage Hospital and bring it back to life as a community hub focusing on education, heritage information, and health and wellbeing projects. A digital archive, oral histories and interviews will preserve the stories of the people who used and worked in the hospital, with interpretation covering the story of the original surgery and celebrating the start of the NHS. The AHF supported the early stages of this project with a Project Development Grant in 2021. Now, the National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded the Trust initial development funding of £58,700 to help finalise its plans. 


Image: The Ice House in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. Photo courtesy of Out There Arts.

Ice House, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Located on the riverside in Great Yarmouth, the Ice House is a prominent 19th-century survivor of the herring fishing industry that once dominated the town. Built sometime between 1855 and 1867, it was originally used to house freshly caught seafood ahead of transportation to London’s Billingsgate fish market. Out There Arts, an independent arts development charity, currently use the site to store festival equipment. However, the charity aims to reinvent the Grade II-listed thatched Ice House into a National Centre for Outdoor Arts and Circus, with facilities for circus training, as well as opportunities for performances and a bar. The AHF has supported this project with multiple early-stage grants and a capital grant since 2018. Now, the National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded Out There Arts a delivery grant of £1,968,061 to progress with its plans for the building, which is due to open in 2024.


Image: Artist's impression of the North Block and courtyard at Alice Billings House. Credit to Purcell. 

Alice Billings House, Stratford, London

Alice Billings House in central Stratford, East London was built in 1905-6 to provide accommodation for firemen of the West Ham Fire Brigade. The fire station was closed in 1964 and the buildings have been vacant for decades. Creative Land Trust is now working to transform the Grade II-listed site into studio space for around 80 artists and makers. The AHF has supported this project with a Project Viability Grant, a Project Development Grant, and a Transformational Project Grant since 2021. Now, the National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded Alice Billings House development funding of £467,172 to help finalise its plans.


Image: Rock Hall in Bolton, Greater Manchester. Photo courtesy of the Banana Enterprise Network. 

Rock Hall, Bolton, Greater Manchester

Rock Hall was built in 1807 for the Crompton family, who were pioneers in the paper-making industry. The Hall was located next to the family’s paper mills, which have since been demolished, and is a reminder of the area’s 250 years of paper-making heritage. However, the building has been vacant since 2014. In early 2020, Banana Enterprise Network decided to save the Hall and began working with the Council on acquiring the lease by Community Asset Transfer. Plans are now in place to redevelop Rock Hall, which will be a significant resource for the local community and will include a café, multi-use community spaces and interpretive displays. The AHF has supported this project with a Project Viability Grant, awarded in 2020, and a Project Development Grant, awarded in 2022. Now, the National Lottery Heritage Fund has jointly awarded Bolton Council and Banana Enterprise Network development funding of £466,662 to help finalise plans for the project.


For more information on early-stage support available for projects in England, please visit our England grants page.

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