Warm welcomes from AJ on IHBC-supported parliamentary APPG call to ‘Cut VAT…. to historic buildings’, and more….

The Architect’s Journal (AJ) has featured the new report from the IHBC-supported cross-party Parliamentary group on Conservation, Places and People which calls for reduced VAT for historic  buildings to encourage appropriate retrofit.

…the cross-party group …. identified targeted tax cuts as a way to ensure historic buildings were not underutilised or demolished…

The AJ writes:

A heritage parliamentary group has called for a cut in VAT when retrofitting historic buildings and a presumption against demolition in the planning process

Outlining the recommendations in a report last week, the cross-party group on Conservation, Places and People said it had identified targeted tax cuts as a way to ensure historic buildings were not underutilised or demolished.

The group’s report, The Value of Heritage, found that areas such as Liverpool’s Baltic triangle demonstrated how creative businesses had led to the preservation of historic buildings and local regeneration of inner-city areas while reusing existing stock.

Such businesses – often creative – were particularly attracted to the cheap rents and flexible floorspaces offered by heritage buildings, such as historic factories and warehouses that might otherwise be demolished.

As a result, the parliamentary group suggested the government implement changes to VAT for businesses refurbishing listed historic buildings and the introduction of a presumption against demolition in the planning process in order to stop the unnecessary destruction of heritage assets and reduce the carbon emissions caused by new construction.

Both demands are similar to two of those previously called for by the AJ through its RetroFirst campaign: the proposal that VAT on refurbishment is lowered to 5% or below and the suggestion that planning regulations and the building regs are reformed to better promote the use of existing buildings.

David McDonald, chair of the Institute for Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), which supported the report, hailed the two main recommendations outlined in the report.

‘Many of us have been saying this [about the presumption] for a number of years, and it is such an obvious message in terms of climate change and sustainability,’ he said. ‘Second, harmonising the VAT rate between new construction and refurbishment. This would be a great incentive to building owners to improve the energy efficiency of their properties and could be a real stimulus to the economy in these difficult times.’

Chair of the Conservation, Places and People group James Grundy added: ‘As the MP for Leigh in the north-west of England, I see at first-hand how some of our most precious heritage is often on the edge of disappearing for good.’

‘This inaugural report by the APPG on Conservation, Places and People demonstrates the value that heritage delivers to the economy, environment, regeneration and society. It shows ways in which, rather than forming a barrier to economic growth, heritage can be a powerful tool for regenerating left-behind areas.’

Grundy added that the group had recommended the government introduce an ‘energy efficiency amnesty for upgrading some of the UK’s ‘most significant historic buildings’ to meet the net zero goal in 2050.

The group’s report says: ‘Given the huge financial and logistical challenges that the UK faces achieving net zero by 2050, exempting the most significant and historic buildings from this wider requirement will avoid potentially damaging and expensive works to highly prized land’.

The cross-party group’s report was the result of a year-long process….

The AJ has submitted the RetroFirst campaign to cabinet ministers, the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Suburban Taskforce and the consultation on the planning White Paper as well as the Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) and won backing from leading figures including the chair of the Committee on Climate Change, Conservative peer John Gummer (aka Lord Deben).

AJ News (subscription needed)

See more on the Conservation, Places and People APPG (CPP APPG) HERE

See the  The-Value-of-Heritage

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