telephone: 0113 244 6100
Heritage property, by definition, lends itself to ownership by charitable trustees: its name implies land or objects of intrinsic merit, in which public interest is to be expected.
Such property comes in many forms, and its interest may derive from its historic, scenic, architectural, artistic or other outstanding qualities. These qualities regularly have educational value, and heritage property traditionally falls on that head of charity. The Charity Commission has prepared a number of publications in this area.
We act for a number of such charities, and are regularly involved in their establishment or subsequent operation. There is a wide area of overlap between tax and trust advice for the owners of heritage property and charities set up to hold it. The tax system recognises that such property frequently produces little or no income, and regularly involves considerable maintenance costs as well. Given the readiness with which many owners of heritage property allow access to it anyway, there is often an argument for them to transfer the property to charitable trusts to administer it, with perhaps a continuing element of family involvement on a trustee board or otherwise. The environment of the trust can, of course, be an ideal one not only in terms of tax saving or grant eligibility, but also in terms of protecting it from family problems such as divorce or financial difficulties.
In all cases where a charity is involved, public access is an important issue, and we have wide experience of the forms and extent of public access that may be appropriate for specific property. Additionally, where there is a continuing family involvement (often highly desirable for a heritage charity), scrupulous care needs to be taken to avoid any inappropriate benefit to the family.