Repair works to begin at bombed-out church

English Heritage is expected to fund half of the £500,000 repair costs to St Luke's Church in Liverpool city centre, with urgent work due to start in April.

Initial preservation activity at the "bombed-out" church would involve repairs to crumbling stonework on the higher levels of the building which are currently being held in place by metal supports. A roof is to be installed over the south tower vestry to prevent water penetration.

The council is currently tendering for a conservation architect to be appointed in the next couple of weeks. The first phase is scheduled to complete by the end of the year.

St Luke's Church in Bold Street was built in 1831 by John Foster and John Foster Jr. It was severely damaged by air raids in 1941 and was maintained in its current "bombed out" state as an art space and cultural venue. The building has been on English Heritage's At Risk Register since 1998.

Phase one will cost around £150,000, to be funded through an English Heritage grant of £74,591 awarded in January, with the remainder to be met out of the city council's Building at Risk budget. The cabinet is being asked to approve acceptance of the grant at its meeting on 20 February.

A detailed survey carried out by the council last year estimated the cost of repairs needed to preserve the grade 2-listed building at £500,000 and recommended that work be carried out in three phases.

According to a report ahead of the council's cabinet meeting, English Heritage has "indicated a willingness to fund 50% of the total cost" over the next three years, with future work to include restoration work on the Tower, low-level stonework and the boundary railings to the garden.

Public consultation is to start shortly to assess what are the most appropriate future ways to use the church.

Cllr Malcolm Kennedy, cabinet member for regeneration said: "St Luke's is a much-loved building which Liverpool people have shown they want to be protected and made accessible to the public. We will be asking for their views on what they think is appropriate for its future use.

"However, it is in desperate need of extensive and urgent repairs. Its stonework has vegetation growing out of it and there is a real danger of it cracking and falling. We have now identified what needs to be done to ensure it has a future and, with the very welcome support of English Heritage, we can start the necessary work to make it safe.

"Not only are we preserving a cherished building but by investing in our heritage we will reduce our maintenance costs in the future, Up to now we have been carrying out ad-hoc repairs but patching up is not the answer, we need a long-term solution which will preserve St Luke's and allow it to be used for appropriate type of events."

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