Medway gets new funding to help bring disused historic buildings back to life

Published: Tuesday, 12th December 2023

12 social enterprises and charities across the UK are being empowered to take over and transform at-risk high street buildings 

Medway is to benefit from a share of a new £5million fund empowering communities to breathe new life into their disused and at-risk historic buildings.

The money will help us, working with partner organisations, take over dilapidated buildings in Chatham and Rochester and create valuable range of new spaces for the community.   

It will support community projects in the intra area between Chatham and Rochester, including transforming the Grade II-listed, currently derelict Waterworks building, and former hospital mortuary.

The funding is being awarded as part of a new partnership between the National Lottery Heritage Fund and charity the Architectural Heritage Fund, to expand the Architectural Heritage Fund’s Heritage Development Trust model across the UK. It follows the success of a pilot programme which supported seven social enterprises and charities in England to repair, restore and reuse at-risk high street and town centre buildings in their local areas. 

As one of 12 new Heritage Development Trusts, we will receive a package of funding to help us scale up our operations to acquire and redevelop a pipeline of local historic buildings. 

Old High Street Intra Cultural Consortium to take the project forward

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Vince Maple, said: “I am over the moon that Medway’s funding bid to support community projects in the intra area between Chatham and Rochester has been approved. This funding will help give purpose to the unique, yet currently derelict, Waterworks building and convert it into a community space.  

“This project supports our ongoing work to revive this historic high street whilst preserving history and creating cultural opportunities for our residents, and I’d like to thank the Old High Street Intra Cultural Consortium who will be taking this project on.”

Janet Fischer, Co-Chair of the Old High Street Intra Consortium, said: “We are so delighted to be the recipients of the Architectural Heritage Funds Heritage Development Trust grant. It is going to mean that the community who have been working tirelessly for three years as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme can capitalise on all of our plans, and bring buildings like this into community use as an asset and place of pride for our entire community.”

Matthew Mckeague, Chief Executive of the Architectural Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage has a lot to offer the future of the UK’s places and people. Bringing old buildings back into productive use will protect our country’s rich architectural past while creating important new homes, workplaces and community and cultural venues. We’ve already seen the many benefits this work can bring to communities across the country, including through the success of our first Heritage Development Trusts across England.

“Our partnership with the National Lottery Heritage Fund is an important commitment to continuing this work in 12 more areas of the UK by giving more people the funding they need to work together to save and restore their most historic and at-risk local buildings. We’re very grateful to the Heritage Fund for this partnership, and to National Lottery players for making it possible.”

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “As the UK’s largest funder of heritage, we collaborate with organisations which share our vision for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future.

“I am delighted that our £5 million grant funding is supporting the expansion of the Heritage Development Trust programme across the UK – stretching from Medway to Govan. This partnership with the Architectural Heritage Fund is supporting communities, charities and heritage groups in 12 towns and cities, to develop plans for the transformation of at-risk historic buildings – boosting pride in place, connection to the past and investing in the future.

“Over the next 10 years, we aim to invest £3.6 billion raised for good causes by National Lottery players, and this programme is one of the ways we can support projects of all sizes across the UK to make a decisive difference for people, places and communities.”

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