Historic Environment Division, Department for Communities has teamed up with DAERA the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) and District Councils to explore the benefit of investing in historic buildings at risk, in small rural settlements, as a way of tackling rural poverty and social isolation. This is a pilot project. It is not open to public application.

About Village Catalyst Pilot

Historic buildings are often a source of pride for communities. They reflect the history of their place and provide distinctiveness. When run down they can, however, project an air of decline influencing general confidence.

By contrast, their regeneration, particularly for a social function, can demonstrate a resilient community and improve confidence and pride.

This influences wellbeing and, with appropriate uses, can make a positive impact on social isolation and poverty. Conserved and reused historic buildings can also add to the attractiveness of an area helping tourism, maintaining specialist building skills, and bringing further economic benefit.

This pilot seeks to encourage these benefits by supporting community groups and charities, located in the rural area, to deliver relevant schemes.

The support being offered covers the shortfall between funds gathered for a project and those required to deliver it (up to a maximum of £200k). Groups seeking small amounts of help will score higher in the competitive application process and are more likely to be supported.

Funding for the pilot is being provided from DAERA’s Tacking Rural Poverty and Social Isolation initiative (TRPSI). We administer the scheme, and the AHF identify the potential candidates.

The candidates have been selected through the AHF’s work with community groups to develop proposals for underused historic buildings. We have supported this work since September 2017 through the Regeneration Stream of the Historic Environment Fund.

The pilot will run until 2022 and, if successful, it may be opened to general application after that time.

As part of the aim of the pilot is to explore an innovative route to tackle social isolation and rural poverty, the lessons learned will be published after its completion. Supported schemes are also being recorded on video.

Back to top