What is a Building Preservation Trust?

Building Preservation Trust or BPT for short have been around for many years, with the Cambridge Preservation Society being one of the first to be registered in 1929, Though trusts were in existence their numbers remained low and in 1970 those registered had only increased to twenty. These early BPT's would mainly retain and manage the properties they refurbished and their work often went unnoticed and unappreciated.

In the late 1960s BPT's potential was recognised by the Civic Trust and in a report to the Department of the Environment their findings concluded that 200 BPT's undertaking 400 projects a year would go a long way to helping save buildings at risk. They recommended that a national fund was set up with one million pounds capital being available to help BPT's cover the financial shortfall of projects they were undertaking.

The government endorsed the report and agreed to match monies raised from the private sector to a maximum amount of £500k to enable the fund to be started.

In 1976 the funding was in place and the Architectural Heritage Fund was then able to commence lending money to BPT's at a concessionary rate.

This introduction of available funding stimulated the growth of BPT's increasing the number of registered BPT's in the UK to over 300 today. Some of these specialise in certain types of buildings, or limit themselves to a single location and a few cover the whole of the UK.

Most of the buildings which are rescued are not grand houses or monuments but everyday buildings which attract no investment. Being neglected for many years they are often in a poor state of repair and in desperate need of a new use. The BPT's which are formed to undertake this work fall into two categories:

  • Single project trusts: - formed for the purpose of rescuing a single building.

  • Revolving fund trusts: - which are established with the intention of rescuing more than one building. These will use any surplus retained funds to help finance future projects. Completed projects are also sometimes retained and managed.

Both types of BPT's are either voluntary organisations or not for profit companies which are incorporated by limited guarantee. Being an incorporated company as the advantage of protecting the members by reducing their liability to a nominal amount if the trust is wound up. Trusts are also charitable organisations which operate on a non profiting making basis enabling them to qualify for grants which are available for works to our built heritage.

The main aim of BPT's is the preservation of our historic buildings and finding new uses which will benefit the public. All work which they undertake is to high standard and inline with conservation policies also giving opportunities for using local employment and suppliers. Most projects not only result in saving an historic building but can often lead to the regeneration of neglected areas and communities.

Over the years hundreds of successful projects have now been completed throughout the UK by Building Preservation Trusts ranging from a single building to major developments and without help many of these buildings would have fallen into dereliction but are now sustainable and preserved for future generations.

All this work however cannot be achieved without the financial assistance and BPT's have to work hard to secure finance to plug the gap between purchase, repairs and resale. Funding and low interest loans have to be secured and though help is available from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Architectural Heritage Fund as well as others but trusts will always welcome additional sources.

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