Taylor Review Pilot Update October 2019
The members of the Taylor Review Pilot Team have made excellent progress in both regions since our last update in July. In total, the Team has been in contact with 370 different places of worship and visited around 180.
Barbara Beckett joined the Pilot Team in August as the new Fabric Support Officer (FSO) and has already achieved a great deal in her short time in this role.
Lynda Jubb and Matthew Hackling have been providing Locum FSO cover for Karen in Greater Manchester and will continue to provide support until Christmas as she gradually returns to work.
Our FSOs have been working on detailed maintenance plans with places of worship as well as offering support to the few remaining grant applicants. The Minor Repairs Grant Fund is almost completely committed and we are starting to receive the good news that essential projects have been completed.
Laura Emmins and Rachel Lake, our Community Development Advisers, are continuing to support places of worship that have already engaged in the Pilot, narrowing their focus to offer a high level of support to people who have requested help working towards towards specific goals.
Twelve of the planned workshops to encourage peer support and offer practical advice to congregations have already taken place but there is still time to book a place on the final workshops:
- Saturday 23 November 2019: A Stitch in Time: Why maintenance and small repairs really matter
- Monday 27 January 2020: Places of Worship and the Wider Community: How to consult and build strong local partnerships
The Churches Conservation Trust has been contracted to deliver the workshops and has worked closely with the Historic England Pilot Team to review feedback and adapt the content of subsequent workshops in response. We’ve noticed that attendees really welcomed learning from one another as well as from the presentations. Many commented that they had found it a relief to know ‘that I am not on my own’.
The independent evaluators from Frontier Economics are in the process of finalising their Interim Report (dealing with the first six months of the Pilot) for publication at the end of this year. We will circulate details of this report as soon as it is published.
A separate but relevant research report was recently published by Historic England, The Value of Maintenance, providing evidence to support the ‘stitch-in-time’ approach of the Taylor Review Pilot.
For this project, APEC Architects were commissioned by Historic England to undertake an analysis of a sample of Quinquennial Inspection reports and evaluate the estimated repair liability and the value of maintenance and minor repair to these buildings.
The three key questions explored for a sample of 30 listed churches were:
- What is the current estimated repair cost for necessary capital works on this sample of historic places of worship?
- What would have been the cost of timely maintenance and minor ‘stitch in time’ type repairs if they had been done when identified in the fabric report/s as being necessary?
- Would prompt attention to maintenance and repair issues have prevented or slowed down the development of major repair needs or are some of these the result of material, structural or design failures and could not have been managed or averted by maintenance?
The results of this research project can be downloaded below:
Meet Barbara Beckett
I was very pleased when I learned that I would be joining the Taylor Review Pilot team in August to work on this project as Fabric Support Officer in Suffolk.
Having worked in conservation for many years, both on international conservation projects and through teaching conservation at university level, I understand the necessity of timely maintenance and small "stitch in time” repairs. Yet this approach is still not widely implemented, so I am very pleased that small repairs and maintenance are at the heart of the TRP.
In my first three months I have been heavily involved in supporting applicants for a Minor Repairs Grant. I was fortunate enough to be able to visit a number of the buildings, and meet the people who care for and protect them, before the applications were submitted. Giving support to applicants by clarifying issues and identifying the most urgent of works has been a challenging but very rewarding experience.
It was very evident when I was being shown around that these applicants have great pride in their buildings. The overwhelming impression, even through email and phone conversations, is the passion they have for saving them. It has been very pleasing to see that successful applications are not only financially beneficial but also boost people’s confidence and enthusiasm.
In some cases the work to care for these buildings is carried out by just a few people. In others the wider community is involved, offering equipment or professional skills: an electrician; a farmer with a cherry picker; a keen gardener cutting the grass. On one site visit I met a family-run building contractor who took great pride in showing me the high-quality repair work they had undertaken with minimal intervention, and the clever solutions by which they had respected, preserved and added to the historic fabric.
On one of my first site visits to help develop a maintenance plan, I discovered that a large amount of maintenance work was already being carried out on a regular basis. The people who looked after the building had unwittingly created a maintenance plan already – it just hadn’t been formally written down as such.
The Minor Repairs Grants have now been allocated in Suffolk, and I am looking forward to meeting some of these diligent and dedicated people to help them develop their long-term maintenance plans.
As I am not local to the region I feel very lucky to be working here in Suffolk. There are some beautiful historic churches that have had very little restoration, and traces of their long history are still visible in the existing historic fabric - a delight for every fabric conservator!