LISTER Drive Library, left crumbling for a decade, is set to spring back to life in a project that will see it become a multi purpose centre for the Tuebrook community, it has been confirmed.
Liverpool City Council has granted planning approval and listed building consent for the repair and conversion of the Grade II listed Andrew Carnegie Library.
The £3m project will see the building, now in a state of disrepair, transformed by local charity Lister Steps into the “Carnegie Community Hub”. It will offer childcare, rentable meeting space, hot desking, heritage activities, an events venue and a wide range of training and volunteering opportunities for local people.
There is still the matter of the Heritage Lottery Fund releasing those big money balls in November, but all the other stars have lined up and the planning approval is seen giant step forward for the community group.
"It is great news. Now we are keeping everything crossed," said a Lister Steps spokesperson.
The Grade II listed landmark at the corner of Green Lane was built in 1904 as a philanthropic gesture by Andrew Carnegie
One of Liverpools grandest libraries, Lister Drive has been subject to theft and vandalism since it closed in 2006
Grade II listed, the Andrew Carnegie Library was designed by Thomas Shelmerdine, and built in 1904 as a direct result of a donation from the wealthy industrialist and Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
The aim was built to provide opportunity for a disadvantaged local population – Carnegie himself offering the money to Liverpool to further their aspirations to improve the education of its inhabitants.
The standalone building in its own grounds was one of the largest public libraries in the suburbs with a grand reception area, extensive oak panelling over two floors and hundreds of thousands of books. For more than 50 years it was one of a number of landmarks on Lister Drive - others included a huge power station and the Victorian swimming baths which later became a fishery stockists.
The oak panelling and parquet flooring is largely intact after a decade of abandonment
But after a 100 year life as a functioning library and having been underfunded for a significant period, it was closed following health and safety concerns. Unoccupied, the building has been subject to theft, vandalism and neglect and is listed on Liverpool’s Buildings at Risk register.
Tuebrook 2016 is considered to be in the one percent of most deprived wards in the UK and while the power station may be gone the project aims to be the "spark that ignites the regeneration of the wider area".
Lister Steps, which provides childcare facilities in a neighbouring temporary building, says it will continue Carnegie's legacy of philanthropy and education, offering opportunity to a new local population in Tuebrook and Old Swan.
"By providing opportunities for people to socialise, learn and participate Lister Steps will support the wellbeing and development of individuals, groups and local enterprise."
Lister Drive Library will be brought back to use as the Carnegie Community Hub with £3m Heritage Lottery funding
The approved design, by Salford-based OMI Architects, places a series of insertions within the volume of the existing reading rooms to create the subdivisions necessary for the diverse range of proposed uses, whilst retaining the original characteristics of the spaces.
Nick Berry, the firm's director, says: “This is a fantastic opportunity to bring a building, which was once the cornerstone of the local community, back into everyday use. We have a history of working successfully with listed buildings and saving them from the risk of serious decline.
"What is unique about the Carnegie Library is not only the impressive scale and rich detailing of the of the internal space, but the fact that Carnegie himself saw the need for this community to be given something to be proud of and this project will ensure that this aim is continued into the next generation.”
Salford-based OMI Architects are overseeing the work