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Liverpool City Council signs £50M library PFI

Liverpool City Council and Inspire Partnership have today signed a £50M PFI contract to renovate Liverpool Central Library was formally signed today and immediately hailed as “the best news this year” by Liverpool City Council.

The 150-year-old library, which lies within Liverpool’s Unesco World Heritage site, will close on Friday 23 July and be handed over to be rebuilt by Inspire Partnership, a joint venture between Amber Infrastructure and Shepherd Construction with architects at Austin-Smith:Lord and Cofely as providers of Facilities Management services.

Work will begin this autumn and will see the full restoration of the Grade II listed parts of the building, which date back to 1860, and the famous Hornby Library and Oak Reading Rooms being fully open to the public for the first time.

The sections behind the façade, which were built in the 1950s and 1970s following World War II bomb damage and now suffer from damp and a leaking roof, will be rebuilt to make the most of the available space including a new purpose-built home for Liverpool Record Office. It will also feature high class visitor facilities with excellent access to the library’s book collections.

The new Central Library is scheduled to reopen at the end of 2012.

Council leader Joe Anderson said: “Liverpool Central Library is one of the UK’s most celebrated public libraries but it desperately needs this renovation so the approval of this scheme is one of the best bits of news the city will hear this year. The scale of this project is immense and it will take some time to complete, but I’m sure the wait will be well worth it.’’

Councillor Wendy Simon, Cabinet Member for Culture and Tourism, added: ‘’I’d like to thank everyone who has worked so hard over the past few years to get the funding in place to deliver this new Central Library for the people of Liverpool. I’m delighted the contracts are signed and we look forward to working with our partners to create one of the best public libraries in the UK.’’

Mike Leto, Project Director from Amber Infrastructure, commented: “We are delighted to have reached financial close having worked so hard to reach this point. We can now concentrate on finalising the construction programme and look forward to work starting in November. The development will deliver a fantastic new library and archive in partnership with the city of Liverpool.”

Chris Pritchett, Partner at Austin-Smith:Lord, said: “We are obviously delighted that this crucial mile stone has been achieved, particularly in the current economic climate. After our involvement in the FACT Centre and the Bluecoat it is fantastic to be involved in another key cultural building in Liverpool”.

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