A HALF million pound scheme to repair the crumbling stonework of St. Luke’s ‘bombed-out’ Church in Liverpool is set to be completed by the end of 2016. The first phase of the work, costing £150k and funded by Liverpool City Council and Historic England, is already underway to safeguard the future of the much-loved landmark. Now a report to the council’s Cabinet on Friday 22 January is recommending that – subject to securing funding from Historic England – work on further phases costing an addition £350k are completed by November 2016, rather than being phased over the next two years as originally planned. Speeding up the work will be more cost effective and mean that the new operator that will be appointed to run events at the venue will not face ongoing disruption. The majority of the 6,300 people who responded to a recent consultation over the future of the church were supportive of limited development and events taking place at the site including the installation of toilets, food and drink facilities, seating and a performance area. Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Cllr Malcom Kennedy said: “There is a great love for St Luke’s Church, demonstrated by the incredible response we had to a consultation last year over its future use. “We really want to give the new operator that is appointed the best possible chance to establish an events programme, and finishing the work before they start will mean they can plan without being constrained by repair work going on. “This is a really exciting time for St Luke’s Church as we are determined to secure its future and make sure that future generations can continue to visit it and enjoy it.” The next phase of work is expected to start in April and will include repairs to the tower, lower level stonework and perimeter railings. In February, the city council will invite expressions of interest from operators to run the site with the successful applicant having to demonstrate that they can offer a viable future in line with the results of the public consultation. A new operator is expected to be appointed in the summer, with repair work completed in November and the building reopening to the public by the end of 2016. The cost of the work is being split between Liverpool City Council and Historic England.