Proposal to open its doors for first time in 20 years
Liverpool’s former Irish Centre could be set to open its doors for the first time in 20 years, with plans pushing ahead for an exciting new development on the site.
The Wellington Rooms in Mount Pleasant was home to the city’s Irish Centre between 1965 and 1997, with the existing St Michael’s Irish Centre in Boundary Lane formed in 1999.
In 2015, the Liverpool Echo revealed that the Wellington Rooms was the focus of an ambitious £8m development plan, the aim of which was to keep talented graduates in the city. Those plans remain on course to transform the 201- year old building into a business and innovation hub.
The initiative is being driven by the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, who have teamed up with Merseyside Building Preservation Trust and Liverpool City Council, which owns has the freehold. St Michael’s Irish Centre committee member Declan Doolin hopes that some part of the redeveloped Wellington Rooms could be used as a new Irish Centre.
“We really hope this project comes about because there have been so many stops and starts over the last 20 years,” he told the Liverpool Echo.
“And if the hub plan is successful, we would love to be given the opportunity of renting space in the building to enable us to bring our Irish Centre back into the city centre.”
An architectural study has been carried out on the building and Deputy Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Ann O’Byrne, confirmed that while its structure is “generally sound” it identified “urgent works” which needed to be undertaken to “prevent further deterioration of the historic fabric”.
Those works include, works to the roof, masonry and internal repairs to address issues associated with water getting in.
Cllr O’Byrne told the Liverpool Echo: “Historic England has awarded a grant of £60,500 to jointly fund the urgent works with the city council.
“Specialist conservation contractors have been invited to tender and the contract is expected to be awarded this month. It is estimated the urgent works will take four months to complete.”
A national lottery funding application is expected to be submitted by the end of this year.
Cllr O’Byrne added: “A feasibility study highlighted a range of options for the future use of the building. The preferred option was the creation of an ‘Innovation Hub’.
“The Merseyside Building Preservation Trust was commissioned last week to carry out a soft market test with developers with a track record in heritage-led regeneration.
“Their task is to develop the detail of the hub proposal in terms of design, cost, value and funding options with a view to submitting a Stage 1 funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund by the end of this year.
“This is all about bringing historic buildings back into use for the 21st century.”