ALMOST £10 million in Lottery cash has been secured to help fund a huge restoration project at York’s most famous landmark.

The Heritage Lottery Fund today confirmed it would provide the £9.7 million grant for the York Minster Revealed scheme, which aims to return the cathedral’s historic East Window to its former glory and improve its visitor facilities.

It ends an anxious wait for the project team, which withdrew its original application for Lottery funding in 2008 after admitting the bid was not good enough and discovered earlier this year that an anticipated £1 million Yorkshire Forward grant had been lost amid Government spending cuts.

As well as restoring glass and stone at the East Front of the Minster, the £19 million scheme includes a new piazza entrance to the South Transept, improved disabled access, displays using digital and computer-generated imagery, and a glass-fronted lift in the Undercroft.

“The grant will enable us to restore one of this country’s most important works of art, the East Window,” said the Dean of York, the Very Rev Keith Jones.

“At the same time, it will help us welcome visitors to the Minster with much improved facilities, so their visit will be all the more rewarding. This is one of the country’s most loved places, and this enables us to make it known and enjoyed by many more people.

“It is very exciting and the coming years of work will be well worth it.”

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, described the news as “wonderful”.

He said: “The East Window is a beautiful and historic work of art which brings joy to so many people, worshippers, visitors and York residents alike.

“I look forward to seeing the window restored to its former glory.”

The project, part of a wider £30 million restoration appeal, was originally earmarked for the HLF grant in 2007 and will include investment in the work of the Minster Stoneyard and York Glaziers’ Trust.

Michael Benson, York Minster Revealed’s chief executive, said: “The decision by the trustees indicates not only that they have a belief in the project, but also that they have confidence in the structures now in place to deliver a successful outcome.”

“The next five years will be incredibly busy, but our masons, carvers and glaziers are the best in the world, so I am confident the work will be completed on time and to an exceptionally high standard.”

City’s leaders greet news of cash aid

THE city’s political leaders have hailed the Heritage Lottery Fund’s cash boost.

York Central MP Hugh Bayley said he was “delighted and relieved” the funding had been confirmed.

He said “There is no way the work could have been done without a grant of this size. We have a duty to preserve the Minster for future generations and this grant was essential.

“The East Window is absolutely unique and badly needs restoration, and I thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for their tremendous support.”

City of York Council is contributing £500,000 towards the scheme and its leader, Coun Andrew Waller, said: “I am very pleased agreement has been reached and we can get on with the project. It is important for the spiritual heritage of the city and the continued investment in York’s key tourist attraction as well as the public realm with the Minster piazza project.”

Carole Souter, right, chief executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “York Minster is one of the country’s finest buildings and a tribute to the craftsmanship and innovation which flourished here.

“The grant will help restore and protect this breathtaking landmark for many years to come, as well as making sure it continues to be a welcoming place for worship, learning and peaceful contemplation.”