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Paying for the Quinquennial repairs

17 May 2013

We have received a Quinquennial Report on our church, and extensive repair work needs to be done. I understand that we can apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant towards our repair work, but how much preparation should we do before applying? We do not want to spend too much money if we then do not get a grant.

AN INCREDIBLY helpful aspect of the Heritage Lottery Fund's grant scheme for churches is that, in its two-stage structure, the detailed and expensive preparation work is paid for as a stage of the grant. But you will need to have outlined a par- ticular repair-project (costing in the region of £250,000, including fees), and have a reasonably accurate assessment of the budget for the works.

With the architect who prepared your Quinquennial Report, outline a single repair project (that is, not pieces all over the building), such as the roof and rainwater goods, the tower or spire, or dilapidated stonework. Other, less urgent pieces of work may be the subject of future grant bids.

Arrange for the architect and an independent quantity surveyor (not a member of the architect's practice) to meet you on site for an hour or so, in order that the outline of the suitable package of works can be explained. The quantity surveyor can go away and spend a few hours preparing an indicative budget for the works. The architect can give you a paragraph or two to describe these works.

The architect and quantity surveyor are each to be paid an hourly rate for their time, and a few hundred pounds will have you ready to make your grant application.

Filling in the form is a serious piece of work, but I assume that a volunteer from among the members of the congregation will do this, using readily available church information.

Once your form is received by the Heritage Lottery Fund, it will arrange for a site visit from an architect from English Heritage to determine that it agrees with the scope of works, the indicative budget, and the urgency of need. This architect's report goes to the grants committee that will determine your grant, which can be as high as 95 per cent of the cost of the project.

Once a grant offer is made, you will arrange to receive a first-stage grant, which, over one year, will finance all the architect's and other professionals' detailed design, and help you prepare for faculty and go out to tender. This fairly expensive work, all preparatory to the substantial repairs, is therefore mostly covered by the first-stage grant. All this material is then submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund for approval, before the release of money for paying the contractor.

There is still a question for which I am currently trying to find an answer. In some regions in the past, English Heritage officers required each church to appoint architects competitively on each new piece of work. In other regions, it was enough that the architect had been appointed competitively at some point in the past, and knew the building well. I do not yet know how the Heritage Lottery Fund is handling this important detail.

Send issues and questions to maggiedurran@virginmedia.com

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