RetroFirst: Is the heritage sector adapting to reuse?

Architects have welcomed calls by Historic England to slash VAT on retrofit, but warn that barriers to reusing buildings still remain. Richard Waite reports in the Architects Journal.

We gave our thoughts on how reuse, and re imagining existing buildings needs to be assisted with joined up thinking by government agencies.


Darren Bray, director, Studio B.A.D Architects

Those of us who feel passionate about reuse and reimagining existing buildings for our clients in light of the climate change emergency face challenges each week on a whole range of projects, from existing churches and banks to former civic buildings. The current challenges around VAT and listed status make projects difficult to manage and deliver.

On many of these projects, budgets and timescales are the greatest barrier to unlocking potential and adding value for clients. Faced with 20 per cent VAT and, in some cases, difficult listed statuses to navigate on existing buildings we are trying to reuse and upgrade, it gives little scope to deliver both a retrofit solution with an inspiring reimagined piece of interior or architecture.

There needs to be some serious collective joined-up thinking and approach by both the government and Historic England. This would enable clients and architects to take the retrofit route as a first option. Otherwise the industry will continue to ignore and demolish much of the existing building stock.