Changing Times, Valuing History: historic houses for the 21st century
Ahead of Historic Houses’ 50th anniversary in November 2023, we have published a new report, Changing Times, Valuing History: historic houses for the 21st century, illustrating the economic, cultural and social contribution of our member places across the UK.
Historic Houses was founded in 1973, to champion and represent the UK’s world-famous independent historic houses, castles, and gardens. Our places are hubs of creativity, culture, commerce, and community across many of the most rural parts of the UK, and act as lynchpins of the UK’s thriving tourism and creative industries sectors.
In 2022, Historic House members:
- Welcomed over 21.2 million visits
- Generated over £1.3 billion in expenditure for the UK economy
- Supported over 32,000 jobs across the UK with 70% of staff employed directly living in the local area
- Employed over 300 apprentices, helping to train the next generation and creating opportunities in rural areas
- Welcomed over 141,000 educational visits
- Hosted over 26,000 cultural events
- Provided over 54,000 days of volunteering opportunities
- Participated in 4,100 days of filming
- Spent more than £156 million on repairs and maintenance
- Created nearly £4 billion worth of wellbeing benefits through visits to gardens
The enormous public benefit these places provide to twenty-first century audiences fifty years on from Historic Houses’ foundation is a result of the tireless hard work and dynamism of independent owners over many years. However, the pandemic showed how fragile these unique small businesses can be. They need a supportive fiscal and regulatory framework from government to continue doing what they do best: welcoming people through their doors, driving heritage-led prosperity in rural economies and communities, and showcasing Britain on the world stage.
Our recommendations to unleash the full economic, social, and environmental potential of some of the UK’s most treasured historic houses and gardens include:
- Protecting and enhancing the existing fiscal reliefs for heritage
- A cost-effective VAT-relief scheme should be made available to heritage businesses operating in listed buildings open to public access
- Our planning system for heritage needs reform: a smarter system of heritage protection is needed
- The use of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) in relation to historic buildings needs urgent review
- The National Lottery Heritage Fund should lift its cap on grants to publicly accessible heritage in the private sector
- DCMS should recognise landscape design as one of the UK’s thriving creative industries
The UK is rightfully proud of its unique heritage, and we are proud to represent some of our nation’s most treasured historic houses. We hope this report will provide a route map towards ensuring the longevity and ongoing relevance of these remarkable places in the centuries to come.
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