21/12/2010

Historic Buildings Grants 'Capped'

Grants to protect and restore NI's historic buildings are being capped.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has announced that it is to limit its Historic Buildings grant-aid to £50,000 per scheme/per year.

Last December NIEA introduced a cap on applications, set at £250,000.

This further reduction has become necessary due to the high demand for the grant.

The reduced grant-aid cap will apply to those applications, received on or after 5 July 2010, which have not yet received a formal letter of offer from NIEA.

The agency has also announced that it is necessary to introduce a temporary suspension on new applications while it assesses the financial implications of its current applications.

NIEA has applications in the system and until the financial implications of these are known it is also introducing a temporary suspension on accepting any new applications with effect from 20 December 2010.

The success of the new Historic Buildings Grant-Aid Scheme, launched in May 2008 resulted in an increase of 160% in the number of applications in its first year alone.

This scheme has had an extremely positive impact for the conservation of listed buildings. In the past two years over 400 offers of grant-aid have been made to assist with the repair and maintenance of listed buildings.

It has contributed to major, high profile, schemes such as The Ulster Hall, St Malachy's Church in Belfast, Belfast City Hall, Church House Fisherwick Place in Belfast, the Ulster Museum in Belfast, Blessingbourne in Co Fermanagh, Ballywalter Park House in Co Down, and the Play House in Londonderry, as well as assisting many owners of privately owned homes.

The position will be reviewed by NIEA in April 2011 at the end of the current financial year.

(BMcC/GK)

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