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New story begins for Calderstones mansion

International reading centre wins bidding race

Published on January 11th 2013.


New story begins for Calderstones mansion

LIVERPOOL’S historic Mansion House in Calderstones Park is set to become an international centre of reading and wellbeing.

The project, led by Everton-based charity The Reader Organisation, won over councillors in a two-horse tendering contest, as revealed here by Liverpool Confidential.

It beat rival plans to turn the Grade II-listed building into a boutique hotel. The mansion, coach house and stables will include a bistro, conference, events and training facilities, gardens, gallery and shop.

The announcement eases concens that the landmark building might fall into neglect and disrepair after it was vacated by the city council's Parks & Gardens department last year. Some local residents were also worried that a hotel or restaurant venture would chage the character of the park, putting pressure on surrounding communities from increased traffic volumes and other nuisances.

Jane Davis And Malcolm KennedyJane Davis And Malcolm Kennedy: 'At Calderstones we will all connect'

The Reader Organisation, a social enterprise, works to connect people with literature, and each other.  It runs over 350 weekly shared reading groups across the UK, over 200 of them on Merseyside.

It says the international centre will engage people of all ages in a bid to build confidence and self-esteem through a range of reading initiatives. 

Jane Davis, Reader Organisation founder, said: “Our vision for Calderstones is a community for everyone, with reading at its heart. We will ask people what they want and need and then connect them with it.  We are very excited about this opportunity and think that at Calderstones we have the perfect location to make this a regeneration success story for our city.

Surplus

“The restored buildings will create a beautiful facility for local people, yet at the same time connect us to international visitors.  

 “At Calderstones we will all connect.”

The Mansion House was put on the market in October 2012 by Liverpool City Council, because it was considered surplus to operational requirements.

 It has now been granted a six-month preferred developer position, during which time the council says it will work closely with them to draw up a feasibility plan. Once this is completed, the council intends to provide the charity and social enterprise with a long-term lease for the building.

Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “There was a good deal of interest in the building, and we considered all the proposals carefully. We chose The Reader Organisation because we were impressed by what was a very strong bid. They have some fantastic ideas which we believe will not only bring the building back into use in a meaningful way but will help protect its future.

 “We have worked closely with the Friends of the Park, the local community and ward councillors on the selection process and I think we have made a really good choice. We will continue to work with The Reader Organisation, and the wider community, as these plans move forward.”

Residents

The Reader Organisation enters the planning period with partners Mersey Care NHS, Plus Dane Group and the University of Liverpool, along with consultants, Cass Associates and Pulse Regeneration. They expect to take up residency at Calderstones this coming August, whilst retaining their current base in the Friary in West Everton.

 Development of the full International Centre for Reading and Wellbeing will be phased and is expected to be completed in December 2015.

 Once the feasibility plan has been completed, a full consultation exercise will begin, to give local residents, park users and other stakeholders the opportunity to have their say on the plans for the centre.

 A steering group will also be set up - made up of councillors, council officers, community members and representatives of the Friends of Calderstones Park – to guide the development of the project.

 The Georgian mansion, built in 1828, and once home to Cunard Line shipping magnate, Charles MacIver, is one of a number of surplus sites which were put up for disposal by the city council in 2012. 

 

New chapter

The Reader Organisation's blueprint for the Mansion House is to:

* Open a bistro, conference, events and training facilities, gardens, gallery and shop;

* Establish an international hub for shared reading practice, training and academic research;

* Support local community groups and community entrepreneurs through the provision of meeting rooms, activities and workshop studios;

* Reach some of the most vulnerable people in society, creating aspiration and opportunities for personal development;

* Create jobs and provide volunteering, mentoring, apprenticeship and employment opportunities to service users and local graduates;

* Consult the local community on their views and ideas.

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJanuary 11th 2013.

Is this like a library then?

Booker T and the AvenuesJanuary 11th 2013.

This is terrific news. Good that councillors have put a bit of thought into this, instead of being blinded by the vainglorious boasts of hoteliers and the like

Darth FormbyJanuary 11th 2013.

Looks like we got us a reader!

AnonymousJanuary 11th 2013.

Good news week

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2013.

A good base for hatching plans to take over all of the libraries.

devonshire houseJanuary 15th 2013.

I imagine, Anonymous, that this is exactly why the Reader Organisation has been picked in favour of a boutique hotel. Everybody knows how much the council loves a hotel plan.
Wouldn't it be convenient if the inconvenient problem of shutting all those libraries went away into private hands?

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