Funding approved to save Florrie

After years of campaigning by volunteers, the derelict former boys' club the Florence Institute in Toxteth, Liverpool is to finally undergo a major renovation.

A £1.5m investment from the European Regional Development Fund has been added to existing offers of money from the North West Development Agency, for £536,000, and the Heritage Lottery Fund, £3.7m.

The Grade 2-listed building will become a business and community centre with 10,000 sq ft of managed workspace for local entrepreneurs, 2,000 sq ft of community conference space and a large events hall.

Val Jones from Merseyside Network for Europe, which represents voluntary organisations in the city, said: "The approval of EU funding for the Florrie is seen as a major success for both the Third Sector and Merseyside. This resource will demonstrate how effective the Third Sector can be in relation to creating jobs and increasing local economic regeneration whilst being at the heart of the very community is strives to serve."

The terracotta Jacobean-style building was erected in 1889 by Sir Bernard Hall, a West Indies merchant and former Mayor of Liverpool. His daughter Florence died while in Paris at the age of 22 and he built the boys' club as a memorial and tribute to her at his sole expense. The club closed in the late 1980s and the building fell into disrepair, becoming a target for vandals and, in 1999, arsonists. By then it was owned by the Queen, as the Duke of Lancaster, under the law where unclaimed property passes to the Duchy.

The Florence Institute Trust was established in 2004 as a charity to restore the building by local volunteers and community leaders.

Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the NWDA, said: "This important building is a key part of the area's heritage and was once at the heart of the local community. This investment will bring it back to life as a key community asset once again.

"Through creating new workspace units for local entrepreneurs and businesses, it will help to support the local economy and tackle unemployment in the area, as well as providing a valuable community resource."

William Anelay and Buro Four Project Services are appointed on the project.

No one from the trust was available for comment when contacted by Place today.

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