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Churches: Repairs and Maintenance

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 22 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport where those offices established to advise on the maintenance and repair of church buildings will be located. (248228)

On 12 December 2008, English Heritage launched a scheme to provide funding for Support Officers for historic places of worship. To date, six Support Officer posts have been established in Brighton and Hove, Exeter, Coventry, Carlisle, the North-West region and Worcester. Posts are established in response to applications from dioceses; denominations; faith groups and other organisations or partnerships which have a role in the care of historic places of worship anywhere in England. The response to the scheme has been very positive and all nine English Heritage regions are now in discussion with potential partners. A wide geographical, denominational and multi-faith coverage is expected.

The Churches Conservation Trust is launching its Community Regeneration Task Force to work with the congregations of vulnerable church buildings where the building might end up vested in the Trust were it to become redundant.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps (a) his Department and (b) English Heritage are taking to assist church maintenance pilot projects in the dioceses of (a) Gloucester and (b) London. (248229)

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport provides grant-in-aid to English Heritage, the Government’s statutory adviser on all matters concerning the conservation of England’s historic environment.

The schemes in the Church of England dioceses of Gloucester and London are two of three pilot maintenance projects, which English Heritage has supported with funds and advice, the third being in the Church of England diocese of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich. A model scheme will be developed from the lessons learnt from the pilot projects, which other dioceses and organisations will be encouraged to adopt, with funding from English Heritage for the set-up costs where possible.