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Consulting English Heritage

31 January 2014

We are working on an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund Grants for Places of Worship funding scheme. Should we set up a consultation with English Heritage beforehand, to ensure that we are on the right track?

THE short answer is no; but the long answer may be informative.

The application process requires you to have appointed a conservation-accredited architect (by competitive tender, if your project fee might exceed £10,000). Your architect will be able to outline the works that are to be covered, and can give you a workable, indicative budget. Make sure that the budget is realistic/high enough, as it is difficult to increase a grant later in the process.

Your application has to be submitted online. You have the chance to attach relevant documents, but this process would not work for my local church; and so the attachments were mailed in.

Almost the first step by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is to call in English Heritage to visit your building and assess your project; the resultant report is important in deciding whether you get a grant or not.

If you are offered a grant - and the paperwork seems to reach mountainous proportions, although the staff are very helpful in ensuring that you get it right - you will find that English Heritage is consulted again during the Development Stage of your project.

During this stage, the architect will prepare the specification and drawings for the project, both to be submitted for faculty and to go out to tender. Before the work goes out to tender, HLF will again ask English Heritage to check through the project (it may take a month to do this) to ensure that the work is as agreed - that is, within the scope and standard. After you receive the tender report, this report andother documentation has to be submitted before the project finally has builders on site with HLF's blessing.

English Heritage does not have an administrative part to play, as it had with the past Joint Repair Scheme, but it does have a key oversight to ensure that heritage is being protected.

English Heritage allowed the church to get on with working its way through the essential preparations; with HLF, every item is covered by paper or online submissions, since the grant offer is initiated with the following: a permission-to-start form, an application for the first sum ofmoney, and a progress form to fill in.

When it feels as if your head will fall off with all the details and communication links, phone your friendly case officer, who will help you to get it done.

I am promising myself that I will write myself a flowchart/checklist that itemises everything to be done, with space to tick things off. Perhaps it should be followed by a page reference for each item as it appears in the HLF guidelines. I do not know if it will help, but the process may be a little clearer.

Send questions and issues to maggiedurran@virginmedia.com.

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