Maintenance schemes make it easier for congregations to arrange regular gutter clearance and other minor works and can reduce the cost to each congregation. As part of the Inspired! campaign, English Heritage was involved in three pilot maintenance schemes.
English Heritage has supported three pilot schemes - in the Church of England dioceses of Gloucester, London and St Edmundsbury and Ipswich – in an attempt to find the best, most cost-effective way of providing maintenance. A description of the schemes can be found in Conservation Bulletin 61, which is available to download from our website.
There are now four area-based maintenance schemes for places of worship in England:
Lessons learnt from the pilots
Maintenance schemes along the lines of the pilots have three main advantages for congregations:
- A reliable and competent contractor is selected for them
- An appropriate specification for the work is provided
- Operating on a large scale with a small number of contractors reduces costs
In spite of these obvious advantages, the take-up for the schemes has not been overwhelming, so there is also a need to continue to make the case for maintenance as a sustainable way of managing historic places of worship.
To make a scheme viable in the long-term the pricing structure needs to make the work affordable and attractive to congregations, but also profitable for the contractor. In order to achieve this, it appears to be necessary either to have subsidy of some sort – at least initially – or to have a scheme that is large enough to generate significant economies of scale.
English Heritage is currently unable to provide funding for maintenance schemes, but we are happy to advise on the basis of the experience gained from the pilot schemes. E-mail email@example.com or telephone 020 7973 3267.