Plans for Dundee V&A remain in the balance

£5m downpayment announced by Scottish government falls far short of project's total costs

Plans to build the V&A's first dedicated museum outside London remain in the balance after ministers in Scotland gave the Dundee project a £5m "downpayment" that falls far short of its total costs.

Today's funding announcement will allow Kengo Kuma & Associates, the Japanese firm of architects, to begin work on the first full designs for the museum, to be sited on the banks of the river Tay.

The two-year deal unveiled by Fiona Hyslop , the Scottish culture minister, gives the project team only a third of the £15m it is seeking from the Scottish government, and that funding has still to be approved by Scottish parliament.

The timescale for opening has also slipped, to early 2015 from late 2014.

The total cost is put at £45m. Under its original funding proposals, the museum would need the remaining £30m to come from private sponsors, the lottery and charitable donors. The V&A is not directly funding the Dundee site nor its running costs, but will provide temporary and touring exhibitions.

The museum's partners, Dundee and Abertay universities, Dundee city council and Scottish Enterprise, insisted they were optimistic they would get the funding required. A spokesman was unable to state whether firm guarantees about getting the £15m required from ministers had been made.

"We're happy with what the Scottish government has announced today; they were saying that their intention remains to make a substantial capital contribution," he said. "It allows us to move on and develop the wider fundraising."

Hyslop's announcement comes as cuts in public spendinghave cost her department £19m in a budget settlement fixed for only one year.

With Scottish parliamentary elections in May now dominating Holyrood, John Swinney, the Scottish finance secretary, has refused to publish detailed spending figures beyond the next financial year. He is due to give broad, indicative figures for the next three years in the next two weeks after coming under intense opposition pressure.

Despite the cuts, Dundee will be one of the most fiercely contested election battlegrounds, with the Scottish National party, which runs Scotland's minority government, hoping to wrest control of the city from Labour. Labour welcomed the funding deal.

Hyslop said: "The Scottish government is making a significant capital contribution to the project, providing a sound funding basis to which the partnership can add from other sources to enable the project to proceed.

"We have reaffirmed our longer-term commitment to helping realise the V&A at Dundee and our intention remains to make a substantial capital contribution to the overall construction costs."

The £5m award, which is conditional on Holyrood passing Swinney's draft budget for next year, includes nearly £3.6m in capital funding and £1.28m in revenue funding to meet early design and running costs.


Severin Carrell, Scotland correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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