The UK’s historic environment provides a tangible link to the past and contributes directly to the social, educational, and environmental prosperity of the country. Through tourism and regeneration, it also supports a healthy economy and maintains the country’s existing assets. Heritage and traditional buildings make up approximately 20% of the UK building stock and include buildings constructed around and before 1919. Listed buildings make up about 2% of total building stock.
The NFB Heritage Group launched in February 2017. With the launch event alone attracting almost 100 like-minded individuals, it soon became clear that this was a Group the sector had been waiting for. Companies and individuals with a particular focus and interest in the built heritage environment attended the launch, delighted to have a focus for this specialist sector of the construction industry.
A steering group was formed to identify the Heritage Group’s key objectives and this steering group will continue to oversee progress. Already, the Heritage Group is exploring opportunities to develop collaborative programmes and initiatives in an effort to help overcome some of the challenges the sector currently faces.
Like the whole of the construction industry, the built heritage sector faces challenges around skills shortages and poor external image. In response to these challenges, the NFB formed the NFB Heritage Group to work with our members and industry stakeholders to ensure that the skills, expertise and competences are in place to support a robust built heritage sector.
In the short term, we aim to determine the sector’s training needs, policy priorities and other ambitions relating to the built heritage sector. We will also be a focal point for the sector as part of the broader industry.
In the longer term, we will represent the needs of NFB members in relation to the built heritage sector, act as a conduit so NFB members can share knowledge and skills, work with other organisations to promote and campaign on relevant issues, and we will raise awareness of specialist skills more broadly in order to aid the recruitment of new entrants to the sector. This will require the development of training initiatives within contract procurement, improving the education landscape for traditional skills and, importantly, encouraging the appropriate treatment of skills and apprenticeships in tenders.
The Heritage Group is a fantastic platform for this specialist sector. Our events deliver valuable insight into the key challenges faced by contractors in the sector and present an opportunity to devise plans to address and overcome these challenges.
We have formed strong relationships with key industry clients and stakeholders, including The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, English Heritage, National Trust, Historic England, and CITB, which puts us – and therefore our members – in an excellent position to influence policy and understand key client drivers.
Through our events, magazine and other communication routes, we are able to quickly share new products to market, news on apprenticeships, examples of best practice and more. Our excellent Heritage and Traditional Building magazine is a fantastic read for anyone in our sector and it’s also worth knowing that it goes to decision-makers in the heritage industry, LA planning departments, the National Trust and English Heritage procurement departments, Churchcare, the National Churches Trust, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
HERITAGE CONTRACTOR MARK
We recently launched the Heritage Approved Contractor Mark which is an NFB-awarded badge that enables NFB members to show their adherence to the NFB’s code of conduct, their experience of working on Heritage and Traditional buildings and their commitment to employing or using experienced Heritage and Traditional building work project managers and tradespeople.
The Mark enables construction clients and/or main contractors to independently verify the holder’s status in respect of seven key qualifying criteria. The Mark is backed by the NFB’s Code of Conduct and the NFB’s complaints procedure. It has been developed in consultation with NFB members and construction clients, aiming to make procurement of Heritage and Traditional building work companies easier for all involved.
Membership of the NFB Heritage Group is provided as part of the NFB membership benefits package; for more information, contact the NFB Membership Services on 03450 578 160.