MILLIONS of pounds in extra funds could be channelled into Linlithgow in the next five years from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The HLF has named West Lothian as a ‘priority area’ for 2013-18, and has already identified specific Linlithgow projects that could be eligible for extra funding and development support as a result of this prestigious status.
Potential HLF projects for Linlithgow include a Heritage Hub, the heritage trail, townscape heritage around the town, and Linlithgow Palace.
Megan Combe, HLF development officer, said: “West Lothian has been selected as a new priority area for HLF as it has benefitted less from HLF funding in the past. As an important town in West Lothian, Linlithgow has an amazing history with its architecture, built heritage, collections, and traditions.
“HLF would like the communities of Linlithgow and West Lothian to take up this opportunity of support and is keen to hear from groups with heritage project ideas.”
There have already been 15 HLF cash awards made to West Lothian since 2001, totalling £4,450,500. Two of the biggest projects which benefitted from the money were Hopetoun Preservation Trust in 2002, which received £977,000, and the council’s Linlithgow Burgh Halls project in 2008, which benefitted from £772,500.
The news was welcomed this week by Stewart Ness, BID co-ordinator for Linlithgow. He said: “If there are funds available to improve the town as a visitor attraction this is great news, and a perfect example of where the BID project would want to source money from. It is good to let local groups know that this is available - we must make the most of the heritage of Linlithgow, and economically exploit it.”
The Linlithgow BID (Business Improvement District) is a partnership between West Lothian Council and local businesses to develop projects benefitting the town.
Alan Young at Annet House Museum meets tourists from all over the world visiting Linlithgow.
He said: “It goes without saying that this could be good for the town. The Heritage Hub could be a one stop shop for researching family history, and accessing the West Lothian archives with research rooms and offices. “Using the history in the town, we could create a heritage stream to get people into Linlithgow. This is bound to be a good thing.”
HLF’s budget for 2012-13 is £375m, and the Scottish allocation from this is around £13m, with a maximum individual grant of £2m. Up to £5m is also available from HLF’s central allocation to support individual projects. From past experience, gaining ‘priority status’ from the HLF appears to significantly increase the likelihood of getting at least one very large award.
Hopes are high that Linlithgow is well positioned to make the most of ‘priority status’ being given to West Lothian.
Linlithgow councillor Martyn Day said: “Linlithgow has a good shot at getting something for the local area.
“West Lothian is well placed to take advantage of this opportunity, and Linlithgow does better than the rest as a heritage base. It has good working groups and it can only be a good thing for the town.”
The HLF move was welcomed by the council’s culture and leisure scrutiny panel yesterday (Thursday).