Jocelyn Stevens, chairman of English Heritage, went to Hove yesterday to announce the grant but did not realise the money was being given to pay for better bungeroosh.
Roger Dowty, conservation officer for Hove, explained: 'The Regency houses in the centre of Hove are built with cheap brick and rubble walls which suck up water. This bungeroosh is covered by stucco and repainted every five years but where the damp gets in we have a terrible problem with dry rot.'
English Heritage is spending more than pounds 2m this year on the refurbishment of historic buildings in 14 towns and cities. In Hove, the money from English Heritage, which matches an equal amount put up by the borough council, will be spent on Regency buildings in Brunswick Square, Cliftonville and the Avenues.
Mr Stevens said: 'We never used to pay for more than 25 per cent of the cost of a project and had a ceiling for grants of pounds 50,000. Our policy is now more focused - we are giving serious money in a 50-50 partnership with local authorities.'
Hove is the first local authority to receive this 'impact funding', as Mr Stevens calls it. In a similar deal, English Heritage is providing pounds 325,000 a year for three years to Newcastle upon Tyne; Liverpool is getting pounds 1.535m; Bradford pounds 130,000 in the first year of a continuing scheme to halt the long-term decay of Victorian squares and terraces; along with 10 other grants ranging from pounds 35,000 to pounds 200,000.