Hearth was originally conceived as a vehicle for the restoration, for housing purposes, of modest dwellings of architectural significance in Northern Ireland. The initiative was a joint one on the part of the Northern Ireland Committee of the National Trust, and the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, both of which continue actively to support it. There are now two sister bodies, sharing the same committee members, staff and offices: the Hearth Housing Association, which is mainly financed from public housing funds to restore and manage buildings for letting to those on the public authority waiting lists; and the Hearth Revolving Fund, which is mainly privately financed and restores listed buildings for resale, usually as dwellings. In most cases the houses have been at risk of demolition, and often in very poor condition, before Hearth acquired them.

Hearth Housing Association, formed in 1978, was registered under the Housing (NI) Order 1976. It is non-profit-making, has charitable status and is registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act (NI) 1969. It is a member of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations, and provides a wide range of housing units for general family accommodation. Houses and flats are allocated to applicants in accordance with their entitlement to points under the Housing Selection Scheme approved by the Department of the Environment. Properties under management are maintained by the Association, and rents are set each year broadly in line with public sector rents.

Hearth Revolving Fund (originally formed in 1972 as the Historic Environmental and Architectural Rehabilitation Trust) purchases and restores dwellings for resale. Like the Housing Association, the Trust is non-profit-making, has charitable status, and is registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act. Its scope was greatly enhanced when, in 1989, the DoE(NI) provided capital for work in conservation areas through an associated Conservation Area Revolving Fund. The principle of a revolving fund is that a relatively small amount of capital can be used over and over again to buy, restore and sell successive buildings; and any profits made on one scheme will finance a more ambitious project the next time round. The Fund concentrates on schemes which for one reason or another might be considered financially unattractive by a private developer. It aims to restore buildings of importance which would otherwise be lost, rather than to make profits from its operations.

An architectural practice was set up initially to carry out work in-house for the Housing Association, but it has since restored houses for sale through the Revolving Fund, as well as undertaking commissions involving the restoration or conversion of historic buildings for the National Trust and some outside clients.

Between 1978 and 2012, Hearth Housing Association has restored or built 102 dwellings at a total cost of some £7 million, and over that time has carried out further extensive improvements to many of those properties; and Hearth Revolving Fund has restored 40 dwellings, a restaurant and a community theatre at a total cost of a further £5 million. In addition a further 34 buildings have been restored in partnership with some private individuals, councils and bodies such as the Irish Landmark Trust. In doing so Hearth has provided high quality housing and also contributed to the preservation of the character of many of the towns and villages of Northern Ireland. The work of Hearth has been recognised by the receipt of many conservation awards.

A small charity cannot achieve such success without considerable help from many organisations and individuals. We would like to thank Hearth's parent bodies, the National Trust and the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society for their benevolent support. We are very grateful to all our funders including the Heritage Lottery Fund, Ulster Garden Villages Ltd, the Pilgrim Trust, the Baring Foundation, the Esmée Fairbairn Trust, the Miss Elizabeth Ellison Charitable Trust, the Architectural Heritage Fund, the International Fund for Ireland, the Northern Bank, Housing Associations Branch of the Department for Social Development, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. Committee members past and present have given unstintingly of their time and expertise on an entirely voluntary basis; our tenants have looked after our houses and responded positively to our surveys and questionnaires; and the architects, engineers, surveyors, builders and craftsmen who have worked on our buildings have delivered to a consistently high quality.

The members of the Committee for 2012/2013 are:

President: Hugh Dixon MBE, MA
Chairman: Karen Latimer OBE, MA, Dip Lib

Una Cregan
John Gibson
Dr Paul Harron
Anne Lynch
Charles McMurray
Denis Piggott
Chris Thirkettle
Primrose Wilson CBE
Stephen Wilson
Tenant Representative (co-opted)

Director: Marcus Patton, OBE, BSc, DipArch, RIBA, MSAI
Asst Director: Siobhan Brown, BA (Hons), RIBA, Dip Cons
Secretary: Mrs Carol Mills, DipHS
Admin Officer: Elaine McCreight

Auditors: Crawford Sedgwick, Belfast
Solicitors: Johns Elliot, Belfast
Bankers: Northern Bank Ltd, Shaftesbury Square, Belfast

66 Donegall Pass
Registered Offices: 66 Donegall Pass, Belfast BT7 1BU
(open 9.15am - 5.15pm Monday to Friday)

Tel (028) 9053 0121
e-mail: info@hearth-housing.org.uk

Hearth Housing Association:
Registered Housing Association no. R30
I P S registration no. IP. 198
Charities registration no. XN 45333

Hearth Revolving Fund:
I P S registration no. IP. 145
Charities registration no. XN 48404

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