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From Left to Right: Alex Patterson, HES CEO; Jo Robertson, AHF Scotland Support Officer; Amy Eastwood, HES Head of Grants; and Matthew Mckeague, AHF CEO, at Calton Hill, Edinburgh.
From Left to Right: Alex Patterson, HES CEO; Jo Robertson, AHF Scotland Support Officer; Amy Eastwood, HES Head of Grants; and Matthew Mckeague, AHF CEO, at Calton Hill, Edinburgh.

Renewed partnership between AHF and Historic Environment Scotland to support community access to early-stage heritage regeneration funding

15 March 2022

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is delighted to announce the renewal of its long-standing strategic partnership with Historic Environment Scotland (HES). The ongoing support from HES will allow the AHF to continue to deliver our core grants and project support programme in Scotland, including the delivery of our focused early-stage grants.

The AHF provides a unique mixture of advice, early-stage grants and social investment loans to help non-profit organisations find sustainable new uses for the historic buildings communities want to see re-used. In the last four years, over two-hundred grants have been awarded, with a value of over £1.8 million, to support groups to undertake initial feasibility and project development support. These AHF grants directly helped projects to lever £5.6 million of additional funding to advance their plans.

Thanks to this new three-year agreement, AHF will re-launch its Scotland grants programme in April 2022 with financial support for groups looking to test potential project ideas, prove the viability of their plans, and then develop these to the point they are ready to apply to larger capital funders such as HES, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Scottish and UK Government regeneration funds.

At Calton Hill in Edinburgh, the AHF has supported Collective to bring the 18th-century Observatory complex back to life and open it to the public for the first time. The AHF – backed by HES funding – has supported the project since 2014, when Collective was awarded a £25,000 grant for project development. More recently, in 2020, the AHF granted the project a £300,000 loan from our Scottish Endowment, also made possible by HES, to renovate and adapt the former astronomer’s house into accommodation for visitors. Observatory House will play a vital part in developing Collective’s sustainable future, with income invested back into their wider mission to bring people together around contemporary art.

Each year, the AHF helps over sixty projects, within every local authority area in Scotland, and the demand for grants continues to increase as a wider range of organisations come forward with new ideas for their historic buildings. Thanks to the extension of this valued partnership with HES, the AHF will be able to carry on providing expert advice and key funding as they continue looking to broaden the variety and diversity of projects they can support in the future.

In recent years, projects coming forward have displayed an increasing focus on community control of historic buildings, which will house a range of social enterprises and deliver positive environmental, placemaking, economic and social impacts through the re-use of heritage.

Feedback from projects supported to date highlights the efficiency and quality of the support provided by the AHF in Scotland:

‘The AHF were one of the first funders to support this development, which subsequently led to other funders supporting us – we are truly grateful to the AHF for early-stage support.’

‘Without the AHF's financial and personal support, the project would not be in the same strong and prepared position.'

Matthew Mckeague, CEO of the Architectural Heritage Fund, said:

“We are delighted that HES has  recognised the long-term partnership with the AHF in its new Grants Framework, and we are once again very grateful for the renewal of our funding to support communities across Scotland to take control of and adapt historic buildings for social and economic impact. We very much look forward to extending this work over the next three years.”

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland, said:

“We have awarded AHF over £1.3m in funding for the next three years as part of our ongoing and valued partnership to encourage and support the sustainable reuse of historic buildings. The regeneration of our heritage assets brings crucial long-term social and economic benefits and I look forward to seeing the continued positive impact that the AHF funding has on communities across Scotland.”

AHF Support in Scotland

Early-stage Project Viability Grants of up to £10,000, are very flexible and tailored to the individual group’s needs. Funding can, for example, help groups carry out condition surveys and architectural feasibility studies by suitably qualified heritage professionals; establish broad costs; engage with the community to identify core needs, test meanwhile uses and develop business plans. 

For those groups who have already established broad viability, AHF can also provide a small number of Project Development Grants of up to £40,000 to move projects on to their next stage of investment readiness, including securing planning permission and listed building consent or employing a Project Manager or other role to help build the capacity of the organisation.

The AHF can also support projects through short or long term large-scale social investment loan finance, which can enable projects to complete short term fundraising gaps, provide working capital or support to build a community business from a historic building.

Editor's Notes

  1. The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is the UK’s leading social investor and helps communities find enterprising new uses for the old buildings they love. The heritage grants programme in Scotland is supported by Historic Environment Scotland and the William Grant Foundation.
  2. For press enquiries please contact Oliver Brodrick-Ward at, or CEO Matthew Mckeague on 07429 799335.

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