You are here

The role of the Community in the reuse of vacant buildings in the neighbourhood development context

28 February 2017

The 2nd Chance project Kick-off meeting, held in June 2016 in Liverpool, has been the occasion to discuss about the implementations of the Local Action Plans, and on the topic of Embedding the reuse of vacant buildings in the neighbourhood development context. This topic is strictly connected with the theme of Recycle, of the Adaptive Reuse, of Preservation, of the Commons.

One of the case studies introduced in Liverpool was the process activated in several cities of UK by the Building Preservation Trusts, charitable organisations made up of local volunteers and established specifically to rescue historic buildings at risk by repairing and converting them for viable new uses. As highlited in the Kick off Meeting Report The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is a registered charity, limited by guarantee, established in 1976 to promote the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings in the UK. As long as they are listed, scheduled or within a conservation area, we help people to bring a historic building back to life. To date, the AHF has offered grants totalling over £3.5 million and working capital loans of over £90 million to BPTs and other charities, enabling the rescue and revitalisation of over 1000 historic buildings.

One of the top ten Building Preservation Trust is the Heritage Trust for the North West, the main aim are: to restore and find sustainable uses for buildings of architectural and historical interest at risk where the commercial sector is unable to act; to encourage good design and craftsmanship using traditional building craft skills and materials. One of the main project was the Higherford Mill redevelopment as the Headquarters of Heritage Trust for the North West. Another interesting story is the Lomeshaye Bridge Mill, it was built in 1841 as a two storey spinning mill on the banks of the Leeds, a further 2 storeys were added in 1899. The Trust worked alongside the local community to fight plans to demolish the Mill and 400 Victorian terrace houses. The involvement of the community is crucial for the success of the initiative.The Trustees promote the projects and their work within the community and encourage others to participate in the Trust’s activities. They hold public meetings, social events, produce newsletters, issue press releases, hold public exhibiti ons, use social media. The volunteers do hand-on works in the rehabilitation of the buildings. This approach is similar in other processes, such ad the project for the St Luke’s Church, were the community was engaged in a public consultation exercise that was undertaken between 20th August 2015 and 30th September 2015 to ask people their views on the future of St Luke’s Church. Over 6,300 people responded to the survey, demonstrating the strength of public interest in St Luke’s. A report summarising the results was been published on the Council’s website and is available at: An Expression of interest was opened by the city of Liverpool during the first months of 2016, inviting different parties who wish to enter into a lease to occupy and operate St Luke’s Church and gardens, in order to secure a long term, sustainable future for the church. To this end it was recently undertaken a public consultation exercise and they are currently joint funding a programme of structural works (in partnership with Historic England).