Government To Fund £1.8m Pilot Scheme Supporting Sustainability of Listed Places of Worship
The government has announced that it will fund a £1.8 million pilot scheme to help build a sustainable future for listed places of worship, regardless of faith or denomination. The scheme will run until the end of March 2020 in the pilot areas of Manchester and St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
Icon Chief Executive Alison Richmond welcomed the announcement: “The conservation of listed places of worship is a huge challenge for local communities. By providing expert advisors - skilled in the care of the fabric of buildings - to support communities, this pilot project is a step in the right direction towards ensuring their long-term conservation.”
The pilots will test some of the recommendations made in the Taylor Review: Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals and will involve:
A Community Support Advisor, working with listed places of worship and communities to open up, where appropriate, these buildings as a resource for the whole community, in order to generate greater sustainability of funding;
A Fabric Support Officer (FSO) to ensure the fabric of the building is well looked after and that there is sufficient funding for maintenance to be carried out on a regular basis and for routine repairs to be undertaken as and when necessary;
Access to a £1m ‘minor repairs’ fund across the two years of the pilot scheme for listed places of worship to benefit from grants up to £10k each to enable urgent works to be completed to prevent further deterioration or damage.
In January, Icon welcomed the Taylor Review’s recommendation for FSOs to have a “practical building maintenance or conservation background.” Icon’s statement highlighted professional accreditation registers as an accessible way to source qualified FSOs.
Icon will continue to promote the assurances provided through the appointment of accredited practitioners and look forward to seeing rigorous conditions in place for FSOs to ensure the high quality of advice provided through the pilot scheme.
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