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Government must act to save Historic Buildings in Northampton

August 20, 2007 10:47 PM

Liberal Democrats in Northampton have called on the Government to do more to help restore historic buildings in the town.

Andrew Simpson, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Northampton North, made the call following the publication of the 2007 "Buildings at Risk Register" by government heritage organisation English Heritage which listed the following historic buildings in Northampton as being at serious risk of further decay and damage: Delapre Abbey, Sessions House and Kingsthorpe Hall.

"These buildings are important to our local heritage," said Andrew Simpson. "With a drop in the funds available to English Heritage to help restore these buildings it makes it more difficult to prevent further decay it also means that work on restoring them in the future will be even more expensive.

"English Heritage have suffered a big drop in the amount of money the government provides to support our heritage," said Andrew Simpson. "In 1999, the cash available for these building's was £6.6 million. Last year that dropped to £4.4 million.

"Building and repair costs are rising and without government action to stop the rot now, it may become too expensive to save some of our great historic buildings that at the moment are crumbling away.

"One measure the government can take is to lower the VAT charged on renovating or extending historic homes and buildings. It is unfair that when a building is converted into housing or is renovated or extended, VAT has to be paid at the full rate on the building materials.

"Yet at the same time, a house that is built from scratch on a greenfield site is charged no VAT at all. The effect is to encourage more new houses to be build in greenfield areas and to make it more expensive to improve and renovate existing buildings.

"Our proposal will make it cheaper for many people who own older, historic buildings to carry out repairs and renovation. And we would pay for this by charging the same lower rate of VAT on materials used in building new houses built on greenfield sites.

"This will also mean owners of historic buildings rely less on grants from the government to improve and protect their property. We believe buildings here in Northampton would benefit greatly from this."

ENDS

Notes to Editors

See English Heritage report at:

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/upload/pdf/BAR_summary_2007.pdf