Buildings: grants, eligible and non-eligible expenditure
Grants granted by the Regional Cultural Affairs Directorates (DRAC) for buildings protected as historic monuments are included in the Finance Act under Action 1 of Programme 175. They are not automatically paid to the owners of the project but depend on the available credits and take into account several criteria.
Applications for grants are submitted to the DRAC by the contracting authorities responsible for the work on buildings protected under historic monuments.
The base for the calculation of the subsidy is the amount of eligible work on the CBM-protected parts only. The calculation is done without tax (VAT) for public owners, who collect VAT, and all taxes included (VAT) for private owners.
The amount of the subsidy shall be fixed taking into account:
- the specific characteristics of the building;
- its current state (including the health emergency);
- the nature of the proposed work;
- efforts made by the owner or any other person interested in the conservation of the monument;
- the availability of budget appropriations and the amount of possible participation by other communities.
For buildings listed as historic monuments, State aid is capped at 40% of the actual expenditure of the works. Article L. 621-29 The Heritage Code states that 40% of the “actual expenditure on maintenance and repair work required to preserve the building” can be subsidized. This old provision is consistently interpreted as meaning all the works envisaged whatever their nature (maintenance, repair, restoration).
Local and regional authorities (with the exception of those located in the French overseas territories), which are responsible for the construction of investment works on their own historic monuments, must contribute at least 20% of the total amount of public financing, unless the Prefect of Department agrees.
The endowment of equipment of rural territories (DETR) cannot benefit from the investment works on historical monument.
The works eligible for these State subsidies are those necessary for the conservation (maintenance, repair, restoration, safety) of the parts classified or registered under the CBM (exterior or interior) of the buildings.
This work includes:
- maintenance work;
- repair work;
- emergency works: site closure, shoring, consolidation, provisional cover, purging, removal of endangered elements, etc.
The security works which may be subsidized are those which are strictly necessary for the conservation of the building: fire safety devices, suppression or neutralisation of networks or technical installations posing a security risk (not their replacement):
- project management assignments related to restoration work;
- assistance to private project owner, in the event of a lack of assistance to public project owner and insufficient resources of the owner;
- evaluation and diagnostic studies prior to restoration work including, where appropriate, historical, scientific and technical expertise;
- the restoration work.
Reconstruction work (sometimes called “restitution”) is restoration work.
However, their funding is not a priority, unless replenishment is essential for the conservation of CBM (for example: coverage):
On the other hand, works on unprotected parts of a building protected under the title of historical monuments are not eligible; an exception to this principle exists for works which are strictly necessary for the conservation of the protected part of the building.
Modification work, modifications, and maintenance operations such as:
- renovation work (non-heritage) of protected parts without heritage value, decoration work, interior design;
- expansion and fit-up of additional spaces;
- the creation of furniture;
- artistic creation (these interventions fall under Programme 131 where appropriate);
- the creation of liturgical furniture and musical instruments;
- renovation or implementation of electrical, heating, plumbing, sanitary facilities, etc.;
- the renovation or implementation of lighting systems;
- periodic checks of fluids, fire and panic safety equipment, lighting, heating, etc.;
- equipment or facilities related to accessibility (creation and maintenance of elevators, ramps, etc.).
State subsidies for the restoration and maintenance of historic monuments constitute a major lever for the preservation and presentation of the national heritage. Government subsidies have a significant leverage effect (2.04 in 2018). They generate investment that allows many small, highly skilled companies to maintain, develop and maintain their know-how.
In 2020, despite the difficult health context, the drac remained fully mobilized and committed nearly €201 million for the conservation of buildings protected as historic monuments. This represents nearly 6,300 operations on nearly
3,800 registered or classified buildings.
Subsidies for buildings not protected under historic monuments
There is no longer funding from the Ministry of Culture for the “unprotected rural heritage” since the funds it had available for this purpose were transferred to the departments under the 2004 Local Freedoms and Responsibilities Act.
The appropriations of the Ministry of Culture dedicated to historical monuments and monumental heritage (Action 1 of Programme 175) are therefore not intended to finance work on buildings not protected under historic monuments.
On a very ad hoc basis, the appropriations intended to subsidize heritage studies on protected areas may finance work on buildings, properties of local authorities or private persons, protected by the regulation of a remarkable heritage site This practice concerns limited appropriations (Action 2 of Programme 175).
Other State grant schemes are likely to finance work on unprotected heritage under historical monuments, in particular the rural territories equipment (DETR) endowment paid to certain local authorities.
The purpose of the TPB is to subsidize projects “for the purpose of making investments, as well as projects in the economic, social, environmental, sports and tourism fields or promoting the development or maintenance of public services in rural areas”, it may concern unprotected heritage under the title of historical monuments of local authorities.