COUNCIL bosses believe they can still deliver two major town centre projects, despite losing millions of pounds in grants due to Government cutbacks.

Regional development agency One North East announced it would be unable to contribute key grants towards Bishop Auckland’s £10m town centre renaissance scheme and a project to improve Auckland Castle Park to make it more attractive to visitors.

The Northern Echo reported yesterday how the Heritage Lottery had also dashed hopes it would provide a £2.9m grant for the park project.

However, Durham County Council said last night it remains committed to both projects and will secure the multi-million pound shortfall from other sources.

One North East announced the funding blow after its Government budget was cut by £47m.

Graham Wood, the county council’s economic regeneration manager, said: “The Bishop Auckland renaissance programme includes a number of projects which will be delivered using a number of different funding streams.

“The recent announcements reflect some changes in priority by some of the funders and we will now review the phasing of works and any other opportunities for securing external support to progress the programme.

“Physical improvements are an important part of creating vibrant centres, which is a priority for the council and has been raised consistently at the recent area action partnership launch events as a high priority for residents.”

The £10m renaissance scheme has already seen work completed in areas such as Fore Bondgate and Theatre Corner.

Work was expected to continue with the redevelopment of the Market Place, and new retail units and housing.

Plans to restore Auckland Park would have helped to completely transform the north end of the town.

One North East has said that, due to the recession, assessing grants will be made on employment focused criteria.

Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman said she will make a case for the scheme to try to get the funding back on track.

She said: “Obviously it is disappointing that they have put this down their priorities.

“I went to the Bishop Auckland town forum last week, when we discussed these projects, and next week I’m going to go to see the chief executive of One North East to see if they can reprioritise it.”