9 March 2018

National Federation of Builders takes action to preserve rich history

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) held its second annual heritage event in Manchester on Wednesday 7 March.

The NFB Heritage Group invited guests to The Monastery, Manchester, where representative’s from The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, English Heritage, the National Churches Trust, and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) provided information about the training programmes currently available, funding streams, and access to opportunities for construction companies.

Heritage and traditional buildings make up approximately 20% of the UK building stock. This includes buildings constructed around and before 1919 and it is estimated that around a third of housing stock falls into this category. Listed buildings make up around 2% of total building stock. 

The built heritage sector is a subset of the main construction industry but faces similar challenges, especially in preserving and attracting the skilled workforce that is required to maintain traditional buildings.

In response to these challenges, the NFB formed the NFB Heritage Group to work with NFB members and industry stakeholders to ensure that the skills, expertise and competences are in place to support a robust built heritage sector going forward. 

Gillian Brewin, the CITB’s partnerships manager for the Midlands and the North said:

“Skills are critically important, particularly in the heritage sector. There’s a huge pipeline of heritage work, with things like the Palace of Westminster, and here in Manchester with the Town Hall. In terms of the housing crisis, maintaining those pre-1919 homes as good places to live is part of the solution, and that also requires specialist skills.”

 Many NFB members are actively involved in restoration projects and three companies shortlisted for the Heritage Project of the Year, at the NFB Awards 2018, provided presentations for the event showcasing their projects and the challenges that they faced. John Perkins Construction Limited, O Seaman & Son Limited and Bolt & Heeks Construction Limited are all in the running for the award and the winner will be announced on 27 March 2018.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB said:

“Preserving the UK’s historic buildings is something that our members are passionate about. We appreciate the specialist skills required to maintain intricate buildings and are working with likeminded organisations to attract talent to the industry and raise awareness of the opportunities that exist.”

The 19th-century former Franciscan friary in Gorton was once listed as one of the world’s 100 most endangered sites, alongside the Taj Mahal. Paul Griffiths DL, Chairman of The Monastery, Manchester and her Majesty's Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, welcomed guests who were treated to a fascinating talk about the rise, decline, and fall of The Monastery and its magnificent restoration.