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Heritage Lottery money used to boost Whitehall budgets

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The Heritage Lottery Fund has rejected accusations of breaking additionality rules by granting £754,300 to the Environment Agency for a nationwide project to encourage interest and access to local heritage. Called 'Celebrate Your Environment', the government scheme will include a week of 26 green festivals or local environmental activities. But the award looked as controversial as the arts lottery award trhat went to the Arts Council-owned South Bank.

The hlf defended the award, saying that the Environment Agency is 'acting as a facilitator', and that it falls outside the statutory remit of the body. 'There's nothing sinister,' said a spokeswoman. 'They're acting as a catalyst for charity groups'.

The hlf has granted £9.3 million to 159 projects in its latest tranche, announced yesterday, including a wide range of architectural exhibitions, building adaptations, photographic records, and internet cataloguing of the built environment. They include the £3.1 million grant to the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England for putting a photo of every listed building on the Internet, as reported in aj 4.2.99. A number of grants enable similar web sites of visual histories of towns and buildings, including £30,000 for Peterborough, £23,000 for 'contemporary and historic' Cambridge and £45,000 for a computer-aided panoramic townscape of Louth in the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries.

Newly enabled exhibitions include a touring show on the art and history of garden design, thanks to £30,000 to the Museums in Essex Committee; a travelling exhibition on Christian architecture in Ireland, funded by £60,000; and a £73,000-funded museums and galleries month for Westminster City Council next year. Tower Hamlets is also to create an exhibition on the physical development of the area, thanks to a £26,100 hand-out, and an archive celebrating London at the turn of the century will get off the ground at the Museum of London through a £30,000 award.

Some of the grants will go towards adapting buildings. Southend on Sea's museum will get £30,000 for a Discovery Centre, public access to the South London Gallery will be improved thanks to a £26,600 grant, and £78,800 will open access to Lambeth Palace and its library.

The hlf has now granted over £1.2 billion, with 8 per cent of that total, or £102 million, going to new buildings. One fifth has gone to historic building repair projects and 14 per cent to building refurbishment. London has garnered 29 per cent of the spend, three times more than any other region.

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