Suffolk picked for £1.8m pilot to preserve the future of historic places of worship
Suffolk has been chosen to take part in a £1.8 million Government pilot scheme aimed at preserving the future of historic places of worship for future generations.
The funding will go to supporting people of all faiths to boost community engagement and heritage management skills, as well as providing access to a £500,000 minor repairs fund for eligible listed historic buildings.
The pilot is being trialled in Suffolk and Manchester and will run for two years.
It comes after the Taylor Review, published in December 2017, called for greater community use of Church of England buildings to help congregations pay for their upkeep. Suffolk has the second-highest density of medieval churches in the country, with around 500 contributing to the county’s rich cultural heritage.
The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, said: “The diocese is delighted to be given the opportunity to be part of the Government’s Taylor Review pilot scheme.
“We look forward to working with our heritage partners and the new officers provided by the pilot so that Suffolk’s wonderful church buildings will receive the additional support they richly deserve.”
Support officers will work in Suffolk and Manchester to provide advice on developing maintenance and repair plans so that routine upkeep can reduce more costly problems in the future.
Heritage minister Michael Ellis said: “Britain has an incredible array of historic buildings important to all faiths which tell the story of our shared history and our communities.
“However, the costs of caring for and protecting many listed places of worship can be prohibitive and lead many to fall into disrepair.
“The innovative pilots I am announcing today will help unlock the community potential of these buildings and provide practical guidance so they can be preserved for future generations.”
Deborah Lamb, Deputy Chief Executive of Historic England, added: “We are delighted that the Government is funding a new project to support the volunteers who care for historic places of worship. We know that keeping these buildings in good repair can be a challenge for congregations so we are excited by the potential of this pilot scheme, and look forward to playing our part in its success.”