UP to £670,000 could be coming to Skipton towards heritage projects and the fitting out of a recording studio.

The Government windfall money could be making its way to Skipton because Craven District Council is so skilled at delivering projects and because other towns had failed to deliver, a meeting of the council was told.

The Historic England distributed money will go towards the ongoing Skipton Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) project, which includes work to the town hall and improvements to the areas around Otley Street and Coach Street, and will have to be spent in the next two months.

The council has also applied to the Arts Council for £150,000 towards the cost of a recording studio and rehearsal room in the Craven Arts House in Otley Street.

At last week's Policy Committee meeting, members were told the money had been offered because of the council's success in spending previous grants from Historic England.

In 2020 Historic England established the Skipton Heritage Action Zone and awarded the town £1.2m.

Money also came from both the district and town council, and Skipton BID.

Projects included the redevelopment of the town hall, the creation of the Craven Arts House, improvements to the market and a cultural programme.

Last year, the council received a further £260,000 from Historic England rather than the money being returned to Government.

The money was part of an underspend, the result of other towns not spending money allocated to them in the year.

This year, because of another national underspend, the council has been offered the chance of more money, but it will have to be spent before the end of the financial year in April.

Cllr Simon Myers said: "This is very much because we are so good in the delivery of grants. We are now in a fortunate position that because lesser authorities fail to deliver, there is an underspend, and (Historic England) come to us and say can we spend this money within the year. We are able to do that for the benefit of our residents.

"We are in a very fortunate position that we deliver projects and are in a position to accept more money."

Skipton Councillor Peter Madeley said the Skipton HAZ project had been a great success.

"It has made a massive difference to what Skipton looks like," he said.

Cllr Mark Wheeler said:"One of the great strengths of this authority is the department that organises funding. I would like to think in the new authority that this department is not dismantled and is allowed to continue. It should be used by the new authority as a leader in how things should be done."

Cllr Patrick Mulligan added: "It is a massive compliment that Historic England comes to us and says we have some spare money, can you spend it."

In a report to the committee, it is stated with just two months remaining, it will 'be difficult' to spend the money.

"We can vire resources to again substitute Craven District Council funding in the current year with Historic England funding.

"This released CDC funding can then be spent in future years. This ensures we can hit our expenditure targets, but it can also allow additional resources to be brought into the programme."

If successful, £20,000 will be used to pay for new street furniture outside the town hall; while the rest will go towards the development of the Craven Arts House in Otley Street, where it is planned to fit out a recording studio and rehearsal room.

Skipton councillor Chris Rose said additional funding for the Craven Arts House would be very welcome so that the redevelopment of the building could be completed. "It would be such a shame if we could not get all of it done at the same time," she said.

A decision on whether the council will receive the extra funding is expected at any time.