Millenium: The third lottery giveaway - pounds 220m to build the future

The Millennium Commission yesterday announced its third and final phase before winding down next spring. Nonie Niesewand, Architecture Correspond ent, reports that it is giving away pounds 220m of Lottery money to 71 projects nati on- wide that will open in 2000.

The Commission has already committed funds for 185 projects, at present in design stages or under construction - or as officials call it "sod cutting and dredging".

So the struggling act had to spread money evenly across the board. Not too many earth centres, youth centres, bridges or bell towers. Some drinking fountains and village halls. No lighthouses, amusement arcades or theme parks.

It also has to balance the different regions with a good spread so that million-pound signs representing lottery handouts pinned on a map of Britain wouldn't all fall like raindrops on the weather chart over, say the North- east.

The steel mill at Rotherham gets pounds 18.6m for a leisure centre focusing on British Industry; Hull gets an aquarium and an ocean centre. Northern Ireland has done well this time round with four schemes: a community centre in Londonderry and Ulster, a town quay in Fermanagh and a linen experience at Moygashel, which is "right and proper since the projects will help in bringing together the community," Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said.

Wales comes in second. East Midlands finished worst off because officials there did not submit much. But then the Midlands Rolls-Royce Trent Engine, with titanium fan light enough to get 36 more passengers aboard every jet, is heading the Millennium Products Collection as well as the export tables. North Berwick has a Scottish seabird centre and there are two science projects in Glasgow and Dundee.

Bridging was the unspoken agenda, as in bridging loans as well as linking different regions. Representing that optimistic scene were two foot bridges symbolising all that is innovative about British ingenuity and engineering. Chris Wilkinson's bridge across the Tyne can be raised like the visor on a motorbike helmet, while Sir Norman Foster is working with Anthony Caro and Ove Arup on the Millennium Bridge linking St Paul's Cathedral to the new Tate Gallery at Bankside.

The rest fall neatly into five categories: Science and technology, the re-generation of cities, support for local communities, environmental sustainability and education, not to be confused with schools since a popular misunderstanding is that the Millennium Commission can fill in for taxes to bolster schools and hospitals and anything else that needs government funding.

It cannot. Lottery money has to be spent on projects that improve the quality of life for citizens in 2000. Mr Smith, who is also the Commission chairman, points out that "these projects represent the aspirations of the public. They represent a very positive statement about Britain."

Science and technology (a favourite) have the National Science Centre on site in Glasgow in association with one in Dundee. The bridges and three public squares in Coventry, Leeds and York will help to revitalise the city centres.

Support for local communities is centred around 36 grants to local village and community halls. Environmental sustainability is the buzz word with the house of the future illustrating renewable energy designed by Richard Rogers partnerships and DCA at Wandsworth in south London.

Education has Everyman's library sending a million books to 4,500 schools in the country with CD-roms and the Welsh Centre in Cardiff as well as cultural events in Londonderry.

Two and a half years ago the Millennium Commission was established as an independent body under the National Lottery Act 1993, one of five causes that shared 28p of every pound spent on the National Lottery. Today it represents the largest non-government funding investment in the United Kingdom social infrastructure.

Imaginative and constructive projects have to benefit people throughout the UK they also have to meet a deadline, the year 2000. That is why this is the final phase though there is some money in the pot.

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