A multi-million pound to restore and re-open a Liverpool library as a community hub has received a major boost after it secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The Grade 11-listed Lister Drive Library, which is owned by the city council, has been closed to the public since 2006 because of safety concerns.
The proposal involves it being taken over by the Lister Steps childcare charity and transformed into a centre of community involvement, family support and childcare services, volunteering and learning.
The organisation currently operates from portable buildings at the former Lister Drive primary school site with services include a pre-school playgroup, day nursery, after-school club and a holiday playscheme.
In total, the proposed scheme is worth around £4.6 million, with the lottery bid totalling £4.1 million. Lister Steps will initially receive around £225,000 to develop its proposals after HLF endorsed its plans, and it now has two years to submit a fully developed bid for a firm award.
The group has been supported in developing its plans by the council’s regeneration team and local ward councillors and Heritage Champion, Councillor Maria McEvoy. Last year the Cabinet approved plans to spend around £100,000 maintaining the building to prevent it deteriorating further.
Gaynor McKnight, CEO from Lister Steps said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support.
“Their decision to invest is fantastic news for the Tuebrook community and for future generations.
“Lister Steps vision is to create a hub that will provide the catalyst for the wider economic and social regeneration of our area, as well as being a place for people to socialise, learn new skills and make a contribution through volunteering!”
Sara Hilton, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said: “The Lister Steps project is a fantastic example of local heritage-led regeneration and shows how new ideas can be used to bring historic buildings back to the heart of the local community.
“As the winners of the Heritage Dragons event in 2012,the Lister Steps team benefitted from 180 hours of free professional advice on how to progress their plans and it’s clear to see from today’s announcement that the support they received was put to good use! We are passionate at HLF about supporting communities develop new uses for their redundant buildings.
“This project will provide the Library with a sustainable long-term future helping to boost the local economy, provide jobs and training for local people and act as a catalyst for wider regeneration in the area.”
Cabinet member for Regeneration, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said: “This is a win-win for everybody and means we can bring a beautiful old building back into use as a vitally important community facility.
“At a time when the council’s own budget is under severe pressure, it is hugely important that we support community organisations such as Lister Steps to access alternative funding and make their dreams become reality.”
Assistant Cabinet member for Regeneration and Old Swan ward councillor, Joanne Calvert said: “This is so exciting and a fantastic example of Liverpool City Council working with its partners to bring an important historic building back into use.
“I can’t wait to see the restored and revitalised building, and it’s the community that will make it happen with the help of the city council and The Heritage Lottery Fund.”
“I know Lister Steps are passionate about their plans to revive Lister Drive Library and they are in a fantastic position to move forward with the project.”
Lister Drive library was built in 1905, funded by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Emergency holding works are due to start within the next month to treat the wet and dry rot that has taken over the fabric of the building.
Lister Steps expect that the completed building will open in 2017. Once open the centre will provide valuable learning and volunteering opportunities and a base for other community groups within the Tuebrook and Old Swan areas.