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How the Trust can rescue a ruin

A neglected building before work The same building after rescue work

Over the 40 years of its existence the Trust has undertaken a number of projects both large and small and in all cases preserving the architectural and historic interest of the buildings is a prime consideration.  The completed buildings are then made available for sale so that the Trust can recoup its costs and move on to a new project.

Converting historic buildings to new uses without destroying their character presents a whole range of challenges, not least of which is to make the scheme pay.  Buildings in poor condition are frequently over-valued representing an expectation that is often unachievable.  For the Trust to succeed in its work it has to be able to identify a viable long-term use for the building and will normally test various ideas in carrying out an options appraisal.  The trust also needs to purchase the building at a realistic price which reflects both its condition and the anticipated costs of repair and reuse.

The Trust is essentially a charitable property developer with a specific remit to protect the architecture undertaking work that cannot always be achieved in the private or public sectors.  The difference between the Trust and a commercial organisation is the ability of the Trust to keep overheads low and sometimes obtain grants that are not available to non-charitable organisations.  In this way the Trust can undertake projects that others would find financially difficult or in some cases impossible.

One aspect of historic buildings is that they are often not what they seem and can include several centuries of development. The illustration on the right shows two medieval structures behind a 19th century facade.

It is important to identify the origins and evolution of historic buildings to ensure that their essential historic and architectural character is protected in any new scheme for repair or reuse. Understanding the building is the starting point for any project.

  ©2009 The Wiltshire Historic Buildings Trust Ltd Home