The ‘Growing Community Enterprise Through Heritage’ project in Wales and Northern Ireland aims to stimulate the growth of community enterprise activity within historic buildings. Funding from the Pilgrim Trust means AHF now has Support Officers based in those nations for the first time, who take a proactive approach to identifying eligible projects and forging new connections between the heritage sector and social enterprise networks. Their support and guidance, alongside project viability grants and project development grants to test and develop proposals for new uses for neglected buildings, helps build the capacity and skills of voluntary sector organisations so they can take on historic buildings – especially publicly owned buildings – and develop them as sustainable community assets.
Since 2016, grants have been awarded to organisations working in a wide range of fields and for a diverse range of buildings, including redundant churches, libraries, mills, former shops and a cinema. In North Wales, grant was awarded to the North Wales Development Trust for a viability appraisal and outline business planning for the Trust’s proposal to provide co-working office and workshop spaces for freelancers in the creative industries in this former cinema building. In Flintshire a significant Victorian building on the Victorian Society’s list of 10 ‘most at risk’ buildings has had help exploring the viability of new uses including training facilities and potentially a library, café and meeting rooms for the existing community of Garden City. In County Tyrone Ireland funding has been offered to develop a proposal to provide overnight accommodation for young adults with learning difficulties in a listed Georgian farmhouse in a remote part of the county.
Image with kind permission of the Architectural Heritage Fund