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24 May 2016

Scotland's historic communities receive £10m funding boost

Scotland’s towns, city centres and places of historic interest are set to benefit from a £10 million funding boost from Historic Environment Scotland.

The Grand Fountain found in Fountain Gardens, Paisely.

Scotland’s towns, city centres and places of historic interest are set to benefit from a £10 million funding boost from Historic Environment Scotland.

The new lead heritage body which cares for, protects and promotes the historic environment will make the announcement today (24 May) at the launch of the organisation’s first corporate plan in Paisley, which sets out its strategy for the historic environment.

The funding, which is distributed through Historic Environment Scotland’s Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS), will see communities throughout Scotland benefit from over £10 million of investment which encourages local authorities to invest in their historic environment, repairing and restoring the built environment whilst helping to stimulate economic regeneration. 

This is the seventh round of funding bringing the overall contribution to £45 million invested by Historic Environment Scotland since 2007 to the benefit of more than 56 projects across the country.

Paisley was awarded CARS funding in 2009 and since then the programme has played a key role in supporting investment through heritage led regeneration. With targeted investment in shops fronts and bringing vacant space back into use key outputs have included attracting new businesses to the area as well as shopkeepers recording increased footfall.

Meanwhile, the works required have helped to provide employment opportunities for local and regional building contractors with the transformation of redundant buildings – including the repair of Paisley Arts Centre (the Former Laigh Kirk) to ensure its continued use as a central cultural hub for the town – in Paisley, which is now pursuing UK City of Culture status.

Dr David Mitchell, Acting Chief Executive for Historic Environment Scotland, said:

“Our investments the length and breadth of Scotland both support and inspire people and communities to utilise their heritage for the future. What we aim to do is to facilitate decision making at a local level with funding allocated to priority projects which have a key focus on the wider contribution that the historic environment brings to communities– with benefits ranging from helping to breathe life back into high streets, providing employment opportunities or acting as a tourism driver.

“Since we launched CARS, many towns and villages across Scotland have benefited from this funding, from Stromness to Kelso. Paisley town centre is a great example of what can be achieved and it’s fantastic to see the area flourishing and several of its historic buildings transformed.

“Releasing another round of £10 million funding will give more areas than ever before the opportunity to benefit from this investment.”

Speaking ahead of the launch of Historic Environment Scotland’s first corporate plan at Paisley Abbey, Jane Ryder, OBE, and Chair of Historic Environment Scotland, said:

“Today marks a major milestone for Historic Environment Scotland and I am both delighted and immensely proud to be unveiling our first corporate plan. As the lead body for the historic environment it is our aim to empower people to play a greater role in Scotland’s heritage, ensuring it is cared for, protected, understood, valued, enjoyed and enhanced now and for future generations.   

“In that vein we were determined to have a thorough interactive consultation exercise both by reaching out to a new audience and encouraging debate on social media which many people participated in. This has helped shape our strategic direction in managing the historic environment which contributes £2.3 billion to the Scottish economy every year and supports over 60,000 jobs. (1)

“So today signals the beginning of an exciting future as we look to deliver on this corporate plan by engaging and empowering communities and partners both national and local. We firmly believe that Scotland’s heritage is for all and it is our job to demonstrate the difference it makes to people and how it contributes to a better way of life in Scotland, and I look forward to the journey ahead.”


The deadline for CARS applications is Wednesday 31 August 2016. For more information and to apply visit our CARS page  

Each round of CARS funding is open to local and national park authorities, community groups and other third sector organisations. Delivering multi-funded projects it can be utilised for a number of purposes from priority repairs and small grants for homeowners, developers and retailers, to providing traditional craft training opportunities

The funding, available over a five year-period, of Scottish Government money which is allocated by Historic Environment Scotland, can be used for repairs programmes for priority projects, small grants schemes or used for community engagement programmes through providing training opportunities in traditional skills and through education.

  1. Ref: Scottish Historic Environment Audit - 59. B5. 1 - Including direct and induced effects, the historic environment sector supports in excess of 60,000 jobs, accounting for 2.5% of Scotland’s total employment (including part-time and seasonal workers). 


Historic Environment Scotland’s Acting Chief Executive, Dr David Mitchell, is available for interview and comment. To arrange this please contact the Historic Environment Scotland Communications Team on: 07721 959 962 or email mediaoffice@hes.scot 

Case studies of previous CARS projects


As part of Kelso’s Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) – a £1.4 million partnership project with HLF and Scottish Borders Council, Historic Scotland granted £307,500 of CARS funding. The project ran from Apr 2010 to March 2015 and benefitted more than 40 properties in the town, including eight priority properties from prominent areas in the town, some of which were on the Buildings at Risk Register. The project also provided assistance to the wider streetscape upgrade of the town centre, which included improvements to the iconic town square, including the relaying of 12,000 cobbles and improving pedestrian access. CARS funding was also used for a series of community education projects, under the banner of ‘Discover Kelso’, in which over 4,000 people participated in more than 50 events to raise awareness of the work being done and more generally on Kelso’s built heritage. The THI was able to attract a further £3 million pounds of regeneration investment to the town. 


Stromness in Orkney, received CARS funding of just over £900K in 2009 which was also part of a wider Townscape Heritage Initiative. In total more than 47 properties benefitted from grants and a total of 2,200 sqm of public space in the town centre was improved, as well as 1,000 sqm of vacant floor space being brought back into use as a direct result of funding. The approximate value of the new investment is calculated as over £6.5 million, with more than 20 new jobs and two new businesses created. The CARS money was also used to fund several community education initiatives, which included seminars, exhibitions, the training of walking tour guides, and the creation of a new course in Stonemasonry at the local college, of which 37 people have so far successfully graduated.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • As of the 1st October 2015, Historic Scotland and RCAHMS came together to form a new lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. The new body Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland is a sub brand of HES.
  • View our press pack and keep up to date by registering for media release email alerts. If you wish to unsubscribe, please contact us.

Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

2016 is the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design (IAD). Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland's position as an "innovation nation", its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector. This is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland and supported by a variety of partners.

Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

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For further information

Iona Matheson or Ali George
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Mobile: 07721 959 962