New £7m loan and social investment fund to secure the future of the UK’s historic buildings

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF), the specialist lender to the UK’s heritage projects, is delighted to launch a new £7m social investment fund to enable organisations to deliver economic and social impact from the re-use of the UK’s heritage buildings. 

The Heritage Impact Fund is a partnership, the first of its kind, with contributions from the AHF (£1.42m), the National Lottery Heritage Fund (£2.25m), Historic England (£800k), Historic Environment Scotland (£427k) and Cadw (£100k). Additionally, Rathbone Greenbank Investments will provide investment management and loan facilities to the AHF.

The Heritage Impact Fund offers tailored loan finance for charities, social enterprises and community businesses across the UK seeking to acquire, reuse or redevelop buildings of historical or architectural importance. These buildings may be listed, in a conservation area, or may be of special significance to the community. Loan amounts will be up to £500,000 per project with a maximum three-year term, which can be extended in exceptional circumstances.  

As well as helping deliver projects that support the sustainability of historic buildings, the Heritage Impact Fund will support organisations with a clear social mission seeking to deliver demonstrable local economic and community impact. 

Matthew Mckeague, Chief Executive, The Architectural Heritage Fund, said:

“The Heritage Impact Fund is our first partnership loan fund and the first of its kind for the heritage sector. We are extremely pleased to be launching the fund alongside our partners. 

The Heritage Impact Fund is designed to be flexible, supporting not-for-profit organisations both within and outside the heritage sector, the common link being the re-use of a heritage building and delivering local economic and social benefits. 

The fund can be used for almost any type of loan to support a project – from working capital during the construction phase, to capital to grow the scope of a business or to finance to acquire a property.”   

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

Over the past 25 years, money raised by people who buy National Lottery tickets has profoundly changed how we view and engage with the UK’s exceptionally varied heritage.  In recent years we’ve seen a growing appetite in the heritage world to make use of loans and other social investments in order to diversify income, strengthen business models and reduce reliance on grants.  This partnership is the first of the strategic initiatives arising from our new Strategic Funding Framework.  It represents an important opportunity to make National Lottery investment in heritage work harder and deliver positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.”

For the first time, the AHF will also be able to provide assistance to borrowers with evaluating and assessing the impact of their projects. The Heritage Impact Fund will also offer incentivised rates for projects that deliver significant economic or social impact, or which can be expanded upon as a result of the AHF’s assistance. Impact will naturally vary from project to project but it is expected to include new job creation, the creation of training and volunteering opportunities and the restoration and re-use of heritage buildings for a variety of commercial and community uses.

Alongside the Fund, the AHF is launching a new business support service – RePlan – that will provide access to pro bono expertise, expert advice and guidance to those organisations that would benefit from targeted capacity building support, assistance with business transformation, transition or expansion. Based on AHF’s experience of when projects need most support, RePlan will be particularly targeted at organisations completing a capital project or looking to build upon or scale-up their existing enterprises.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: 

“Historic England is delighted to be continuing its long-term support of the Architectural Heritage Fund with the Heritage Impact Fund. Community organisations and social enterprises are playing an increasingly innovative and important role in helping historic places to thrive and to benefit local people.  By our partnership in this work we are helping public money go further and supporting sustainable businesses.”  

Further information on the Heritage Impact Fund application process, criteria for applying and the terms of the loan are available from the AHF Investment Team on 020 7925 0199 or via the website on

A case study on how an AHF loan has helped Gorton Monastery can be found here.

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