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Tate Modern extension snubbed by Lottery Fund

The request was rejected as a 'low priority', with concerns about 'deliverability'

Tate Modern has suffered a blow while fundraising for its 11-storey extension. The Art Newspaper can report that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) recently rejected a request for nearly £10m.

As part of the extension, Tate wants to set up an innovative project to digitise much of its important archive of documents relating to 20th-century British art. The idea is to offer digital access to the archive to young people in the new extension and also give them an opportunity to display work created in community programmes.

Tate applied to HLF for £9.23m towards its £12.3m “Inspiring Art, Inspiring Lives” programme, along with an immediate £240,000 to develop the proposal. HLF’s officers supported the request, but its board took a different stand.

The HLF board deemed the project a “low priority”. It had “concerns about the new build elements, particularly deliverability within the 2012 timeframe (longstop timeframe 2016) and the high level of risk associated with the significant shortfall in funding for the overall building project”.

Total costs of the Tate Modern extension remain at £215m (at 2012 prices). So far, Tate has raised £74m, or just over one-third of the costs. This includes a £50m capital grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, £7m from the London Development Agency and £5m from banker John Studzinski. These named grants were given by the end of 2007, and a further £12m has come in from individuals during the past 15 months. This means that £141m is still required. Although detailed discussions are underway with numerous serious donors, the target is still a long way off.

On 31 March it was announced that Southwark Council had granted planning permission for a revised Herzog & de Meuron-designed extension, which involves a brick lattice facade (rather than the glass originally proposed). The council’s permission will run for five years (to March 2014), instead of the normal three years, “because of possible delays in commencing development involved in such a large and complex publicly funded development”.

The hope is that some demolition work may begin within the next few months, with the main construction starting in mid 2010. Tate says that completion is still scheduled for 2012, the year of the London Olympics. M.B.