Farm buildings with snow-covered hills in the Lake District national park© REX/Shutterstock

A pilot scheme offering farmers grants to help them save historic farm buildings has been launched by Defra as part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

The Historic Building Restoration Grant will be available within five English National Parks – Dartmoor, the Lake District, Northumberland, the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales.

Farmers in these areas will be able to apply for a standalone capital grant which will pay up to 80% of eligible costs for the restoration of eligible historic buildings.

See also: Countryside Stewardship – the four new ‘offers’ explained

Eligible buildings must be of historic significance, built using traditional materials and methods, and must be evident on an OS map dated on or before 1940.

Funding can cover replacing the roof, weatherproofing the exteriors, or other restoration works so that the building can be used again for farming purposes.

In total, £2m of funding has been made available to run the scheme which is open for applications until 31 January 2019.

Two-year timescale

Once approved, agreement holders will have two years to complete the work required.

In order to apply for the scheme, farmers must first complete an implementation plan and feasibility study.

This is so that applicants can work with National Park advisers on developing a management plan to deliver the restoration, working with conservation consultants as necessary.

This work will be 100% funded so applicants can seek the advice they need to develop high-quality applications and secure funding for their projects.

Lord Gardiner, the Defra Minister for National Parks, said: “The British countryside, including those historic farm buildings that dot some of our most iconic landscapes, is a truly precious natural asset.

“Land managers who apply for this scheme will not only be safeguarding our rural history and culture, but also regenerating traditional buildings for use today and for future generations.”

The scheme has been welcomed by the chairman of Historic England, Sir Laurie Magnus, who said many farm buildings were as important as churches in contributing to the beauty and the character of the English landscape.