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"The Jewel on the Hill" wins Heritage Lottery Fund support
Plans to secure millions of pounds for the restoration and reuse of the former Everton Library have taken a major step forward.
Heritage Works Buildings Preservation Trust in partnership with Hope Street Ltd and Liverpool City Council has received initial support including £284,400 development funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Jewel on the Hill project, to help progress detailed plans towards the application for a full grant.
This funding will allow a development stage to run from July 2012 until Autumn 2013 when the full grant application will be submitted and other matched funding sought towards what will be a £5 million project. If all is successful the building will be fully back in use by Autumn 2016.
In 2009, Heritage Works was commissioned by Liverpool City Council to undertake a Feasibility Study to explore the potential for reuse of the former Everton Library, a grade 2 listed building at risk, with the aim of turning the redundant building into an asset for the community. Following on from the Phase 1 study, the Trust was engaged to undertake a further Phase 2 piece of project development work, focusing on specific types of re-use. Phase 3, for 2020 Liverpool, then made a market assessment of the business case for the rebranded "Jewel on the Hill".
A bid for initial support funding to further develop the project was submitted in 2011 to the HLF and though it was unsuccessful it received favourable comments about its vision which encouraged us to retry in 2012. We therefore continued to work with the Council, Hope Street Ltd and the local community to prepare a revised application, which was submitted in spring 2012. We heard that this was successful in May this year and have started on the development stage of the project as indicated above.
Phase 1 Feasibility Study
The initial study commenced by developing an understanding of Everton Library - its history, architecture, condition and place in the community - by means of site inspections, desktop research and stakeholder consultation. We considered a range of options for the site, including commercial, residential and a combination of various facilities, taking into account the market in the area and the regeneration strategy for Everton and North Liverpool. The team then developed sketch schemes and costs for the various end-use options, and considered the potential for new-build development on adjacent sites to provide cross-subsidy for the proper conservation repair and conversion. Two favoured options emerged: (a) 'foyer' accommodation for young people and (b) a business centre.
Phase 2 Options Appraisal Study and Phase 3 Market Assessment
Everton Library was originally built to provide a lending library, reading rooms and a technical school. Following feedback from community consultation on our phase 1 feasibility study, we were asked to explore the potential of an alternative future end-use around the theme of creative industries and heritage skills training. Everton Ward has the highest percentage of worklessness of any Liverpool ward and so the potential for this project to achieve an economic impact in such a context is particularly important. The report for phase 2 was completed in April 2010.
The phase 2 study suggested the title "The Jewel on the Hill" to help provide a new 'brand' for the Library, capitalizing on its architectural qualities, geographical location, historical resonances and community meaning. It articulated a vision for the restored and converted library as "a dynamic local centre for creativity, heritage and enterprise, linking tradition and modernity in a new and exciting mix".
The phase 3 work, completed in October 2010, comprised a market assessment of six sub-uses for the Library within the vision and set out the business case for the Jewel on the Hill:
Everton Library is located on the east side of St Domingo Road at the junction with Beacon Lane about two-and-a-half miles north east of Liverpool City Centre. The property lies in a predominantly residential area, within the Housing Market Renewal Initiative area, and is a short distance from Everton Park. The property comprises three parts: the former Everton Library, and two brownfield sites, one directly abutting the Library to the north and the second site on the opposite side of Beacon Lane.
The Library was built in 1896 by Thomas Shelmerdine, Liverpool Corporation's prolific Architect and Surveyor, and is constructed of brick and stone with a tiled roof on a triangular shaped site. The building is in an eclectic Jacobean/Arts and Crafts style and is grade 2 listed. It is a distinctive landmark on the brow of the hill, with an ornamental octagonal corner turret at the corner of St Domingo Road/Beacon Lane. The two-storey building has a substantial basement, originally used for craft classes, and a roof terrace commanding spectacular views of the Mersey Estuary and towards Blackpool and the Pennines. The ground floor was originally laid out open-plan with a huge glass vaulted ceiling over the main reading room, and mezzanine galleries. In recent years, a number of partitions have been erected within the principal rooms to create small offices.
Contributing to the complexity of the building is the fact that the building is split into two parts, accessed separately. The training school occupied the basement and part of the first floor, with the Library sandwiched in between - but with no connection between the parts. Modern doorways and staircases have been inserted, complicating the circulation and providing no access for the less able. Heritage Works' design studies have shown how the circulation can be rationalised and disabled access provided so that all parts of the building can be accessed from a central foyer. A small extension on land to the north will help to address vertical circulation and fire escape issues, with the potential for future expansion.
Click on the images below to see a larger version of the proposed ground and first floor plans.
Dragon - Everton Library interior
Everton Library name plate
Main reading room vaulted ceiling
Historic image of Reading Room
Everton Library entrance
Everton Library, Liverpool