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The Jewel on the Hill project involves the restoration of the former Everton Library in St Domingo Road, Liverpool, and its sensitive conversion into an international creation centre, working with the local community and beyond.

Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent have been approved. The latest plans can be downloaded here. 

The Vision

The vision is the ‘Jewel on the Hill: a centre for arts, culture, heritage and enterprise, that links tradition and modernity in a new and exciting mix’.

This is likely to include a multi-purpose performance space, rehearsal and meeting rooms, offices and a heritage resource facility – telling the story of the library and the local area. Hope Street Limited is the arts organisation that will manage the building and deliver its activities from there. Over the next two years, there will be several arts and heritage projects taking place in the local area, and in EvertonPark.

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The Building

Untitled-4Completed in 1896, the former Library was constructed according to an unusual triangular plan to fit within the Victorian street layout.  Its features include a striking octagonal turret, a Jacobean/Arts and Crafts exterior, its former Main Reading Room with impressive glass barrel-vaulted ceiling, and lower ground floor Technical Workshops.

The building was designed by Thomas Shelmerdine, and was one of the earliest public libraries in Liverpool.  It is Grade II listed on account of its architectural quality and its role in the development of Liverpool’s public library service.

The Jewel is on the top of Everton Brow – one of the highest points in the City of Liverpool – with historical references going back to the English Civil War and possibly beyond to the 13th century.  Vacated by its owner, Liverpool City Council, in 1999, it was used initially by a number of community organisations, but has been empty for the past twelve years.

It suffered severe vandalism in 2009, although emergency works were carried out to limit the damage caused by theft of rainwater goods and smashing of rooflights.  Further works are to be undertaken shortly, to halt ongoing deterioration and make the building safe for the Jewel on the Hill consultants’ survey work.

What we’ve done so far

Development work to date and proposed

The project has been subject to several phases of feasibility study and market assessment work, measured surveys and condition reports and a Design Team, headed by Austin-Smith:Lord Architects, has been appointed. There will be further financial appraisal and business planning, the development of an Activity Plan, Training Plan and ten-year Management & Maintenance plan.

A Conservation Management Plan is currently being prepared by Donald Insall Associates, which will provide more information about the history of the building, an evaluation of its significance in whole and part, and policies for the building’s protection and adaptation.

What’s next

The Jewel on the Hill Trustees aspire to make the Library building accessible to all; this means physical and intellectual access to the Library building, its heritage and the activities that go on within it.  The Design Team is expected to embrace inclusivity at a level that exceeds statutory requirements and, supported by Liverpool City Council’s Corporate Access Officer, will facilitate consultation with the Corporate Access Forum during the design development.

The Trustees have responsibility for making the Stage Two grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sources. 


The anticipated programme for the project includes the Stage Two application to the Heritage Lottery Fund in June 2014, alongside applications for planning permissions.

The Trust is also in the process of submitting applications for match funding to trusts and foundations and to Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts programme.

All this is working towards a start on site in late Spring 2015 and the building is expected to be open in the early part of 2017.

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