High streets will benefit from a new Treasury drive worth close to £1 billion to “breathe life” back into Britain’s heritage hotspots after the pandemic, The Telegraph can reveal.
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, will announce the £850 million of new funding that will also help museums, galleries and heritage spots when he delivers his Budget on Wednesday.
The V&A, Tate, Natural History Museum and National Museums Liverpool are among the cultural institutions that will receive funding.
More than 65 high streets will get funding to transform disused and run-down buildings into new homes, shops, offices and community spaces.
Separately, £6.9 billion is also being channelled into what the Treasury has dubbed a “local transport revolution”, with most going to regional mayors and more than £1 billion on buses.
Mr Sunak said: “From science museums to art galleries to our most cherished historical sites, I am proud to be part of a country with such a strong cultural heritage.
“That is why we’re investing hundreds of millions, so it’s not just today people can enjoy their favourite spots, but for generations to come.”
The Budget will see Mr Sunak reveal the conclusions of the spending review, which will set spending limits for government departments for the next three years.
Treasury figures have played down the chance of other major reforms, stressing that beyond the spending announcements only smaller taxation changes will take place.
But the Chancellor is under mounting pressure to once again freeze fuel duty, given petrol prices are expected to hit new record highs this weekend. Treasury figures declined to rule out a rise on Friday.
Under Boris Johnson, the UK tax burden has reached its highest point in 70 years, in part to cover increased spending during Covid-19, which has led to hand-wringing on the Tory benches.
As The Telegraph’s Peterborough Diary reveals, David Cameron, the former Tory prime minister, joked about Mr Johnson’s high tax record at a Number 10 dinner on Wednesday, just two days ago.
Mr Cameron said in a speech to the gathering of Tory MPs, which included Mr Johnson: “You’re the Prime Minister, I am just a former prime minister – but at least in my day we cut taxes.”
The new £850 million funding for cultural “hotspots” will be divided into various different funds, each with a different target.
The V&A in London, Tate Liverpool and the Imperial War Museum in Duxford will each get a share of £300 million, while the British Library site at Boston Spa in Yorkshire, pictured below, will receive approximately £77 million.
More than £75 million will help 110 regional museums and libraries improve buildings and digital facilities, while £125 million will help build the Natural History Museum’s scientific research centre in Oxfordshire.
High Streets will benefit from an extra £42m put into the High Street Heritage Action Zones.
A Treasury spokesman said the money would help “breathe life back into our world-renowned cultural and heritage hotspots”.
Meanwhile, Michael Gove has been pushing for more money to unlock brownfield land for development, as he seeks to quell Tory backbench concerns over house building in the countryside.
The Telegraph has been told that the Levelling Up Secretary wanted the Treasury to provide more support to help local authorities unlock derelict land for regeneration.
Whitehall sources said Mr Gove had sought to “max out on brownfield opportunities”, in turn helping to relieve pressure on greenfield areas, which will otherwise come under mounting pressure.
After Mr Johnson vowed earlier this month that new houses should not be built on “green fields”, Mr Gove is said to be convinced that a greater focus on brownfield land is key to delivering on the government’s target to build 300,000 homes a year.
One of Mr Gove’s first announcements since being appointed to the job was to distribute more than £50 million in funding to kickstart the building of 5,600 homes on brownfield land.
( Information from telegraph.co.uk was used in this report. To Read More, click here )
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