CIVIC chiefs have asked for an additional £77,000 in funds after revealing the budget for a city centre improvement scheme had been underestimated.

Winchester City Council’s cabinet approved the additional funding earlier this week for the St Maurice’s Covert scheme, and raised the budget by £90,000, bringing the total to £225,000.

According to the report that went before councillors on the city council’s cabinet, the Business Improvement District have committed £8,000 and the Steele family £5,000 towards the improvements, the remaining £77,000 funded by reserves.

As previously reported, the project, being funded mostly by the Town Forum and the city council, is seeking to improve St Maurice’s Covert, the link between the High Street, Market Lane and the Outer Close, to reduce its neglect and magnetism for anti-social behaviour.

The aim is to declutter the space, removing the waste bins and bollards and improving the links to the Outer Close and cathedral, while lighting will be improved, a new ceiling installed and new paving laid to make the area more attractive and highlight its heritage.

The gravestones – which do not have graves underneath – would be relocated to inside the tower of St Maurice’s church.

Appealing for the additional funds, the report said: “Additional work on the scheme, including a number of design changes, and more broadly escalating costs associated with this type of enhancement project, has seen projected costs including contingency rise to up to £225,000.

“In particular, the procurement of the surface works at the start of this year saw quotes returned significantly higher than expected and considerably above the cost estimates originally produced when the original budget was set in 2017. Escalating costs therefore remain a risk to this type of project given current wider market conditions.”

However, the report adds some of that money could be returned to the reserves depending on the outcome of a grant application.

It said: “The council has also submitted an expression of interest in Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zones scheme citing the covert works with a request for a £100,000 contribution towards its costs.

“The council is unlikely to know the outcome of this before December this year so the scheme cannot rely on a formal bid being successful if it is to progress to implementation in 2019. However, depending on timing of the outcome of the request for funding, and assuming a favourable result, some of the scheme costs could be met by Historic England which will release funds back to the Major Investment Reserve.”