Heritage Lottery will no longer be giving the Great Central Railway more than £9.5 million to build a new museum in Leicestershire.
Plans for the new museum in Birstall are now in jeopardy following the announcement, although the team involved are confident it is not the end for the project.
According to Leicester City Council, Heritage Lottery decided to withdraw its funding because of concerns about the “stage of development of the project and perceived delivery risk”. Heritage Lottery was due provide more than half of the estimated £18 million cost.
The Main Line project, as it is known, is a partnership between the Great Central Railway (GCR), the National Railway Museum (NRM) and Leicester City Council.
Due to open to visitors in 2021, the new museum would sit alongside GCR’s Leicester North terminus on the site of the former Belgrave and Birstall station.
GCR’s managing director, Michael Gough, said: “We were genuinely astonished to hear the news about the HLF’s decision on our round two funding and I have to question their rationale.
“Since joining the GCR I have been highly impressed by the support that the project had from the City Mayor and his team and I was confident that the strength of our combined proposal would be a winning solution.
“Our proposal to the HLF consisted of, as requested by them in October 2017, a comprehensive strategy and action plan from the city council, and a detailed business plan from the railway. Taken together this provided an approach that had almost zero risk.
“We will now explore a number of alternative plans. In the meantime, I can’t help but feel hurt that Leicester appears to have been overlooked yet again.”
Leicester’s City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “We are obviously very disappointed, but this is not the end of the project. We remain committed to it, and the challenge now is for us to find a Plan B and an alternative source of finance.”