New lease of life for former library

WORK is to begin on a multi-million pound transformation of a former library into a brand new community centre in Liverpool.

The project, backed by a £3.9m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will see the former Andrew Carnegie Library in Lister Drive, Tuebrook, given a new lease of life.

Nathan Lee, Head of the National Lottery Heritage 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. 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.”

The building is owned by Liverpool City council which is contributing £500,000 to the scheme and specialist contractors HH Smith & Sons Ltd have been appointed to undertake the 12 month restoration, beginning on Monday, 1 April.

HH Smith have carried out a great number of restoration projects across the north of England such as Gorton Monastery, Norton Priory, Quarry Bank Mill, The Met Theatre in Bury, and the company is currently working on listed buildings including Halle St Peter, Manchester and First White Cloth Hall, Leeds.

The Grade II Listed building, which was vacant for six years until 2012 when community based charity Lister Steps, which has provided childcare and family support to local residents for the past 20 years, were selected to take on the building and develop their service.

Gaynor Williams, CEO at Lister Steps, said: “We are delighted that work can finally start restoring this important part of our local heritage and bringing to life our plans and aspirations. We are looking forward to the long lasting benefits and opportunities it will offer our community and we’d like to thank National Lottery players and the city council for their ongoing support.”

Working in partnership with the city council, Lister Steps has also secured the services of award-winning architects OMI to oversee the restoration.

On completion of the work Lister Steps will move its child care services into the building on a long lease from the council. The new centre will also generate six new jobs and training opportunities, hosting a raft of facilities including a licensed café, an events space, a healthy food takeaway, a co-working space and facilities to help local people socialise, learn new skills and hobbies.

For the duration of the contract there will be a range of community outreach and training opportunities delivered by the main contractor in partnership with Lister Steps. This will include a programme of education, training and volunteering activities facilitated by the Museum of Liverpool.

Councillor Alice Bennett, Liverpool’s Mayoral Lead for Heritage and Design, said: “I’m delighted that work is to begin on transforming the old Lister Drive library into a vibrant new community centre. Lister Steps have been a fantastic asset in Tuebrook and this new centre will provide them with a platform to develop their skills and support programmes and reach out and transform many more lives.”