Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pounds 8m Black Hole in Science City Project; Government Turns Down Request for Building Cash

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pounds 8m Black Hole in Science City Project; Government Turns Down Request for Building Cash

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson

SCIENCE City bosses face an pounds 8m funding black hole after regeneration cash was pulled from the huge city centre jobs project.

Government spending chiefs have turned down a request by development agency One North East for permission to hand over the pounds 8m it had promised for the Science Central building, in Newcastle.

The refusal could threaten the next phase of the much overdue project, which is hoped will breathe new life into derelict areas of the city.

Project partners at Newcastle Council and Newcastle University have now been left searching for a means of replacing the money needed to keep the Science City masterplan on track.

The funding deficit has emerged despite a planning application for the initial funded work being submitted.

The Coalition Government is understood to have handed defunct RDA One North East just enough cash to pay off its current bills and no more for capital expenditure - including crucial schemes like Science City.

Science City leaders will now be forced to look for regeneration cash from Europe. Shadow Science Minister, Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah, accused the Treasury of sparking "total chaos" around the region's most important regeneration scheme.

She said: "What this does is underline the asset chaos really. One North East will likely lose a lot of assets which could be kept in the region.

"Since it has a stake in Science Central you have to ask who will invest without knowing for certain what the future is now for this site.

"At a time when we desperately need to be growing the economy we have been dealt another setback."

Last night Newcastle Council's Liberal Democrat leader David Faulkner said: "The city council and its partners remain confident that the Science City initiative will continue with substantial private sector investment. …

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