ONE of the region's most iconic and controversial public works of art is to be restored to its former grandeur thanks to a £336,000 Lottery grant.

The Apollo Pavilion, a bridge-like structure created from pre-cast concrete blocks, spanning a waterway running through a housing estate in Peterlee, County Durham, was designed by the late renowned artist Victor Pasmore.

Built in the late Sixties in a collaboration between Pasmore and planners developing the new town of Peterlee, it was named after the Apollo space mission.

The structure has had a chequered history in recent years and was increasingly subjected to vandalism. It had descended into a focal point for anti-social behaviour, and its surrounding lake had become stagnant dumping grounds for discarded rubbish.

Some campaigners called for its restoration, while others urged its demolition.

But yesterday, after decades of uncertainty, it was revealed that the pavilion's future was now secure.

Announcing the cash aid, Dr Keith Bartlett, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the North-East, said: "Following strong support from local people for the revival of the Apollo Pavilion as a valuable feature of Peterlee's local heritage, the building is now set to become an historical architectural centrepiece of the North-East once again.

"It is truly a Sixties design icon, and the HLF is delighted that it will now be preserved for future generations, while enjoying new and innovative uses that will add value to the lives of the community."

The money will enable Easington District Council to work closely with the community and the Apollo Pavilion residents' steering group to realise its plans for the building's restoration.

Its architectural features are to be restored to the original design with a replacement staircase installed and the full restoration of the Pasmore murals and feature lighting.

The surrounding Sunny Blunts park will also receive a major facelift and the pavilion is to become a centre piece of an educational programme linked to the national curriculum.

John Pasmore, the son of the artist, said yesterday: "I'm delighted by the news. The restoration of the Apollo pavilion and lake will represent a landmark achievement in helping to secure the legacy of my father's work in Peterlee."

Maurice Moutford, chairman of the residents' steering group, described the news as a real boost for the local community.

Restoration work, which is expected to take six months to complete, is due to begin in November.