Memorandum by English Heritage (ERF 12)
English Heritage is a major agency for urban
and rural regeneration. We have been contributing to the regeneration
of England's towns and cities through the restoration of historic
buildings for many years. Our funding programmes operate in inner-city
districts, towns and villages in each of the nine English regions,
often in some of the most deprived areas. We have secured the
preservation and restoration of many historic buildings, mainly
by ensuring that locally and nationally valued buildings are able
to serve an economically viable purpose. Restoring historic buildings
for new uses has proved to be a sustainable way to develop urban
areas, conserving natural resources and maintaining physical continuity.
English Heritage's 1999 report The Heritage
Dividend demonstrated the significant impact of investment
to conserve historic buildings in delivering social and economic
benefits. In addition to the clear economic benefits, English
Heritage involvement has delivered quality projects contributing
to long-term sustainability rather than quick-fix solutions. Our
funding for regeneration is delivered primarily through Heritage
Economic Regeneration Schemes (HERS) and our main Historic Buildings,
Monuments, Parks and Gardens Schemes.
In acting to safeguard historic buildings, English
Heritage has often been one of the first organisations to provide
grant-aid in areas with high levels of social exclusion. This
commitment to bringing about real change has often given others
the confidence to move into these areas, resulting in the transformation
of local economies.
Following the decision of the European Commission
in December 2000 that the English Partnerships PIP scheme contravened
the EU's state aid rules, English Heritage was advised by the
Department of Trade and Industry that our Historic Buildings,
Monuments, Parks and Gardens Scheme should be notified to the
European Commission. Notification was made in July 2001, citing
Article 87(3)(d) of the European Treaty. A decision is awaited.
We are hopeful of a positive outcome, and will wish to make further
representations if this is not the case. Our Heritage Economic
Regeneration Schemes were considered by the DTI not to require
notification, since any affect on competition would be de minimis.
They are accordingly administered as "non-notifiable"
aid, with a strict cash limit on the amount of such aid any one
recipient can accept in any three-year period. Our church grant
scheme, run jointly with the Heritage Lottery Fund, is not affected
by the state aid rules.
More generally, English Heritage is of the view
that gap funding schemes, such as those run previously by English
Partnerships, are an important mechanism for securing regeneration,
and conservation-led regeneration in particular. They have been
very useful in providing additional funding to support projects
eligible for our own grants. The Heritage Dividend showed
that £10k of English Heritage attracted on average £48k
of additional funding from other sources, including from gap funding
regeneration programmes. Gap funding is a particularly effective
way of making the re-use and rehabilitation of existing buildings
and infrastructure economically viable. This is a critical part
of sustainable development.
It therefore seems to us that the European Commission's
policies on regeneration are inconsistent. On the one hand, the
directorate-general responsible for the ERDF offers substantial
funding for economic regeneration (in which heritage is acknowledged
to play an important part), while, on the other hand, the state
aid rules appear to rule out similar national programmes.