A total windfall of £2m is being shared between five upland National Parks in England, including the Dales and the Peak District, to give historic farm buildings a new lease of life.
Many of these buildings have fallen into ruin because of the cost of conserving them and because many have become redundant as farming practices have changed.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority will use its share of the funding to address the state of some of its 4,250 field barns. More than 2,000 have been assessed and they were found to be in “poor” or “very bad” condition.
The new Historic Building Restoration Grant is also being piloted in Dartmoor, the Lake District and Northumberland.
Announcing the new funding, Lord Gardiner, Minister for National Parks at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 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.”
Sir Laurie Magnus, chairman of Historic England, added that many traditional farm buildings are as important as churches in contributing to the beauty and the character of England’s landscape.
“The partnership approach being piloted by Historic England, Natural England and upland National Parks will be of immense value in helping owners to maintain and conserve these buildings and to retain their significance for future generations,” he said.
Owners of historic farm buildings can, from today, apply for a grant offering either 80 or 100 per cent of the restoration costs.
Applications are welcome until January 31 next year and, once approved, agreement holders will have two years to complete the work.
In the Yorkshire Dales, there have been more than 40 expressions of interest already.
Miles Johnson, senior historic environment officer at the Dales authority, said: “We expect it to create conservation work which will involve slightly upwards of 10 buildings. In the grand scheme of things it is a small proportion but this project has been put out as a pilot project so theoretically it could lead on to a wider project.
“A lot of farmers are really proud of their field barns so we expect a lot of interest.”