When it comes to the matter of who can apply for funding, the terms are strict. Profit-making companies are excluded, as are private individuals. Yet to apply you must own the property in question. The people who are most likely to meet both requirementsare local authorities. Persuading them of the merits of a particular project is likely to be the most effective way that ordinary people can gain lottery money to improve the area where they live.
An example of the impact a council can have on small-scale heritage is a scheme in Sunderland, which has been funded until now by a Government programme.
The city council, in partnership with the Government, English Heritage and local landlords, is restoring two streets of terraced houses with unusual architectural features. The original bay windows have rare battlement-style plasterwork, and the wooden fascia boards beneath the drainpipes are carved.
Almost all the houses are owned by private landlords and rented out, mostly to students. Many are in a poor state of repair, the plaster battlements replaced by boards and the gardens overgrown.
Thanks to the council's foresight, 34 houses will have their original features restored - the fences, gutters and pilasters around the doors as well as the plasterwork and fascia boards. The total cost of the external work is £450,000, of which the council will pay about £50,000.
Application forms for National Lottery funding are available from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, 10 St James Street, London SW1A 1EF, or call 071-649 1345.
Hundreds of properties in the south London borough of Wandsworth have five bedrooms, two bathrooms and three reception rooms. But not many fetch a million pounds. It is the location and setting of Spencer Park that make it exceptional.
The house has large gardens backing on to a private square. It is double-fronted, detached with a garage, and is in all respects like a country house, except that it is just a few minutes away from Clapham Junction.
Michael Comyn, of John D Wood, who sold the property, said that a typical Wandsworth buyer is an English family moving out from Fulham or Chelsea and either staying put in Wandsworth or using the property as a last stop on their way to a house in the country.
Few, however, have a million pounds to spend, or would normally need it to buy a good family house. Foxtons is selling a property similar to the million-pound house for £265,000. It is a Queen Anne, double-fronted house with five bedrooms, three reception rooms, a garage and a large back-garden. The drawback is that it fronts directly on to West Hill, a busy road. Some buyers might feel that is worth the £735,000 saving.