Start approaches for £50m library renewal

Construction firm Shepherd said it intends to start on site in the summer with the £50m redevelopment of Liverpool Central Library.

The plans by architects Austin-Smith:Lord were approved earlier this month by Liverpool City Council. They include restoring the Grade II-listed parts of the building which date back to 1850, including the Picton, Hornby and Oak Reading Rooms. The existing 1950s and 1970s facilities will be replaced with a new five-storey section doubling the number of public computers. There will also be a roof terrace and a new archive facility.

Liverpool Central Library plansShepherd is the lead contractor in the Inspire Partnership consortium appointed on the work. Asset managers Amber Infrastructure, architects Austin-Smith:Lord, Buro Happold, building services engineers and Cofely on facilities management, make up the rest of the construction and design team.

Mike Leto from Amber Infrastructure said: "Achieving [planning consent] is great news and we are working hard to achieve financial close as quickly as possible – the whole team is looking forward to starting construction later on this year and delivering such a landmark facility for the city of Liverpool to enjoy."

Cllr Warren Bradley, leader of Liverpool City Council, said: "We have been developing this project for several years, and to get planning permission and listed building consent is a major milestone. This scheme will enable us to upgrade and restore the much loved historic parts of the building, creating a first-class 21st century facility the whole city can be proud of.''

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I have to say that the 1950’s part of this library is one of the finest examples of good architecture and interior design in the whole city. In particular the very fine staircases. It’s crazy to destroy it. It looks like it’s going to be replaced by a poor pastiche of bygone times like the outside of the Trafford Centre. How about something modern looking?

By Mr D Tunstall