Interior of the newly restored field barn with cattle bays

Bridge End Barn, Longsleddale, Lake District. Interior of the newly restored field barn with cattle bays © Historic England DP249727
Bridge End Barn, Longsleddale, Lake District. Interior of the newly restored field barn with cattle bays © Historic England DP249727

Pilot Scheme Success in Restoring Historic Barns

The deadline for final applications for a £8 million pilot project to restore historic agricultural buildings in National Parks is 30 March 2020.

The Historic Building Restoration Grant Pilot was launched on 29 March 2018 and is a collaborative project between Natural England, Historic England, the Rural Payments Agency and five National Parks (Dartmoor, Lake District, Northumberland, Peak District and Yorkshire Dales).

Farmer holding two lambs in his arms inside a barn surrounded by sheep
Farmer Lewis Steer with his native Devon and Cornwall Longwool sheep at Highbury Barn, Chagford, Dartmoor National Park. © Historic England

The aim of the pilot is to bring life back to traditional agricultural buildings within the participating National Park boundaries. Funding is available for restoring buildings for continued agricultural use, using traditional methods and materials, which will improve the distinctive character of the area.

As the scheme is a pilot, it is now closed to new applicants but existing applicants can submit restoration grant applications up until March 2020.

Open-front stockshed
Highbury Barn, Chagford, Dartmoor National Park before restoration. © Jonathan Rhind Architects

Once restored, these buildings are enhancing the historic landscape and public enjoyment of the National Parks, as well as providing welcome habitat for wildlife, such as bats and barn owls.

[Read: Historic Farm Buildings - One of Our Most Precious National Assets]

Restored barn with a dog sitting outside
Highbury Barn after roof and stonework repairs made under the pilot Historic Building Restoration Grant scheme. This barn probably dates from 1743 and is known as a linhay, a distinctive West Country form of open-front stockshed. © Historic England

Early economic forecasting of the impact of the pilot grant scheme found that for every £1 of public money offered by the scheme in rural areas, the benefits to the local economy in terms of creating jobs and helping local businesses ranges between £1.65 - £2.50.

The analysis also indicated that the scheme creates around 15 full-time equivalent jobs in the local economy of each of the five National Parks; equating to at least 77 full-time equivalent jobs for an initial grant investment of just over £4 million.

Given that the pilot grant budget has been increased to £8 million, it is anticipated that the economic return will exceed early forecasts.

The barn with a hole in the slate roof
Bridge End Barn, Longsleddale, Lake District before restoration. © Countryside Consultants | Listed Grade II

This pilot is a wonderful initiative to help bring historic buildings back to life for future generations. Many of the historic stone barns scattered throughout our National Parks have fallen out of use, despite being perfectly situated to provide shelter for livestock or store feed. Natural England has played an important role in helping applicants with the application process, and I look forward to seeing how this funding will be spent to revitalise these buildings.

Lord Gardiner, Rural Affairs Minister
Restored stone barn
Bridge End Barn restored. This large Grade II listed barn dates from the 18th century and provided accommodation for cattle and storage space for hay and straw. © Historic England DP249731

We are delighted at the results already being demonstrated by the historic farm building restoration grant pilot scheme. They show the widespread enthusiasm to repair these buildings which are such a distinctive part of their landscapes. Historic England will continue to work in partnership with the National Parks, landowners and tenants, Natural England and the Rural Payments Agency to ensure as many historic farm buildings as possible can be brought back into use.

Sir Laurie Magnus, Chairman of Historic England
Farmer and his dog looking over a stone wall with a restored barn in the background
Farmer Andrew Sutton with his sheepdog and newly restored field barn at Longsleddale © Historic England DP249724

Applications are rigorously assessed by a grants panel chaired by the Rural Payments Agency with representatives from Historic England, Natural England and the National Parks. The budget for the scheme is £8 million and to date £5.4 million has been awarded for capital works.

Interior of barn with a view of the wooden beams and barn doors open
Interior of the restored Bridge End Barn © Historic England DP249729
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