Strict code for lottery projects

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

GUIDELINES for projects funded by the National Lottery that could prevent the disastrous mistakes of the still-unfinished British Library were published yesterday.

The recommendations, from a working party of the bodies that will distribute the funds, come ahead of the Government's review of the mismanagement of publicly funded building projects, announced last week, to be headed by the Prime Minister's adviser on efficiency, Sir Peter Levene.

Both studies follow the fiasco of the British Library's new headquarters in St Pancras, north London, described by the Commons National Heritage Select Committee in July as a 'Babylonian ziggurat seen through a funfair distorting mirror'. At pounds 340m to date, it will cost at least four times more than expected and after 16 years has no completion date.

The guidelines, adopted by the English Arts Council, are aimed at the other four lottery distributors - the Sports Council, the Millennium Commission, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the National Lottery Charities Board, which have yet to formally consider them.

Drafted by the architecture unit of the English Arts Council in collaboration with the other lottery distributors, they advocate strict project monitoring and suggest that a condition of funding should be that distributors can attend project management meetings and go to sites.

They also call for successful applicants to file progress reports and be required to give warning of any 'significant modifications' to projects. National Heritage guidelines say such changes could invalidate funding.

For projects where the National Lottery has contributed pounds 1m or more, distributors should also appoint a project monitor to oversee the process from start to finish and report back to the funding distributor. Funds should be released only under a system of formal certification, carried out by a qualified professional.

Designers of lottery-funded buildings should be advised at an early stage that disabled people should have the same access to buildings as the able-bodied.

The report also suggests that applicants devote some of the building budget to commissioning artists and craftspeople or buying works of art. 'It is consistent with the wider cultural objectives of the National Lottery that new or refurbished buildings should display works of contemporary artists.'