Historic Environment Funding & Grants

Find out about the range of support available to owners and groups to repair, research, and regenerate historic buildings, historic monuments, and the wider historic environment.

The Department’s aim is to ‘help communities to enjoy and realise the value of our historic environment’. One way of doing this is through providing financial assistance.

Historic Environment Fund

Roof Repair Stream

The Historic Environment Fund Roof and Window Repair Stream was open to applications between 19 May and 20 June. Up to £6,000 per roof (£12,000 for thatched buildings) is being made available help owners to keep listed buildings watertight. 126 applications were recieved.

Work must be carried out in compliance with the HEF Advisory Standards.

District Council Heritage Development Support

A fund up to a maximum of £10k per award was open between 19 May and 19 August to support district councils to carry out a wide range of heritage development activity. 9 applications were received.

Research and Revival Streams 

A fund up to a maximum of £10k per award is available to support work to research or celebrate the historic environment.

Support for social enterprises/charities to tackle Heritage at Risk

The Department supports the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) to work with communities to realise the potential of heritage assets. Its Heritage Transformed in Northern Ireland project includes funding to provide project viability and project development grants. 

Village Catalyst

The Village Catalyst grant scheme is a partnership initiative between the Department for Communities (DfC), the Department for Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF), and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE). Applications are invited from charities, social enterprise and other not for profit groups in rural villages of less than 5,000 people, who want to tackle rural poverty and social isolation in their area, by developing a sustainable use for a disused historic building in their village.

The programme builds on a 3-year pilot, which resulted in 4 projects being developed, highlighted in a short film.

To be eligible, the building must be listed or within a conservation area. The 3 available funding routes and details on how to apply are listed below: 

  1. Project Viability Grant – To carry out viability work, with support offered up to £10,000.  Please complete the enquiry form prior to making an application. This is a rolling scheme. More information on what this grant can fund is available.  
  2. Project Development Grant – To further develop your plans with support offered up to £20,000. For enquiries and applications for this scheme, please contact Villagecatalystsupport@communities-ni.gov.uk. Please note, this scheme will close once our available budget has been expended. Therefore, early application is recommended. 
  3. Delivery Grant – To deliver your project, with capital funding offered up to £200,000.  For enquiries and applications for this scheme, please contact Villagecatalystsupport@communities-ni.gov.uk. Please note, this scheme will close once our available budget has been expended. Therefore, early application is recommended. 

The scheme reopened to applications on 9 May. As awards are subject to available budget we recommend early submission of proposals.

Heritage Impact Fund

The Department has also provided funding to the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) to support it to provide loans to applicants in Northern Ireland seeking to ‘acquire, reuse or redevelop buildings which are of historic or architectural importance - these may be buildings which are listed, in a Conservation Area, or may be of special significance to the community.

Community Ownership Fund

The Community Ownership Fund provides financial support to communities across the UK to take ownership of assets, amenities and facilities at risk of being lost but have value for the local people and place.

The fund invests in sustainable projects where community ownership of the asset or amenity makes the biggest difference to the local place, advancing the social wellbeing and interests of the community. Voluntary and community organisations are eligible to bid for match funding to save community assets and amenities and run them for the benefit of the local community.

Up to £250k is available per project. A total sum of £150 million will be spread across the UK in multiple bidding rounds covering a period of four years from 2021-2025. The proportion of the overall fund for NI will be £4.3 million. Groups who want to apply to the fund must do so using the online portal.

Funding for Places of Worship

Historic Environment Division has supported the National Churches Trust to develop a funding stream for churches in Northern Ireland. The project which is also supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and the Pilgrim Trust, is running for three years from 2020 - 2023. Its aim is to make it easier for those responsible to look after church or chapel buildings. Grants for repairs and help and advice are available as part of the project. £200k of further support for repair work was provided by DfC in 2021/22. Applications closed for this on 7 February and seven Northern Ireland churches were supported.

Listed Place of Worship Grant Scheme

The Listed Places of Worship (LPW) Grant Scheme gives grants that cover the VAT incurred in making repairs to listed buildings in use as places of worship. The scheme covers repairs to the fabric of the building, along with associated professional fees, plus repairs to turret clocks, pews, bells and pipe organs. The Scheme is run by a contractor for the Department of Culture Media and Sport.

Funding to deal with the impacts of COVID-19

Covid Recovery Employment and Skills Initiative for Heritage

Funding for heritage organisations to create employment opportunities for individuals who wish to enter into, or progress within, the heritage sector was delivered for the Department by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2021-22. The support aimed to provide funding for training in key roles in an effort to assist the sector to fully recover from the impacts of the pandemic. Organisations could apply for £50,000 - £100,000 to fund one role over three years. Priority was given to roles that can become sustainable in the long term. 27 heritage organisations were supported. 

Heritage Recovery Fund

The National Lottery Heritage Fund also helped the Department to deliver support to heritage individuals, organisations or businesses impacted by COVID-19 covering operating costs, assess and adapt their business models, and become financially viable.

50 organisations and 41 individuals received grants in 2020/21. A list of the recipients is available.

10 Organisations and 9 individuals received grants in 2021/22 . A list of the Covid Recovery Programme for Heritage (Northern Ireland) decisions recipients is available.

Community Heritage Fund

The Community Heritage Fund was also dispersed  as part of COVID-19 support in 2020/21. It aimed to use heritage to encourage renewal projects that help communities deal with the impact of COVID-19.

This was also  administered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and 29 organisations across Northern Ireland received grants for local heritage projects, ranging from £3,000 - £10,000. A list of recipients is available.

National Heritage Memorial Fund COVID-19 Response Fund

Launched in June 2021, this funding stream offers project grants to support any heritage asset which is:

  • of outstanding importance to the national heritage
  • at risk due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)

A total of £40million is being distributed by NHMF, made up of two lots of £20m:

  • NHMF has made a commitment of £20m, which is available to applicants from across the UK.

Distributing NHMF’s own commitment as a single fund with the Cultural Assets Fund will ensure a UK-wide balance of funding. This funding is available until the end of April 2023. There are no deadlines for applications. This is open to

  • charities
  • not-for-profit organisations, for example voluntary groups, trusts, social enterprises and community interest companies
  • public sector organisations

This is not open to:

  • private individuals
  • commercial and for profit businesses

What can be funded

  • Any heritage asset which is of outstanding importance to the national heritage and at risk due to the impact of COVID-19, through a project grant.

NHMF can fund heritage projects of all sizes and there is no limit to the percentage of funding that can be applied for. However, NHMF operates as a fund of last resort, so you will have to demonstrate that you have explored, or are exploring, all other possible sources of funding, including your own resources. 

    Other sources of funding

    The Heritage Funding Directory is managed by The Heritage Alliance and the Architectural Heritage Fund, and provides a free guide to financial and other support for anyone undertaking UK related heritage projects. Organisations such as the Pilgrim Trust  and the Garfield Weston Foundation have a history of supporting work in Northern Ireland and may be willing to support suitable projects.

    ​The Directory’s entries cover historic buildings, landscapes, parks and gardens, churchyards and cemeteries, industrial heritage, archives, historic churches, museums, archaeology, environmental, heritage skills, conservation and more.

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