PLANS for the restoration of the historic Gamble building to bring it back into public use have now officially been drawn up.

Senior councillors signed off on £1.4m in funding for the project as St Helens Borough Council's cabinet approved the funding that will go towards making the historic building secure.

The Central Library area closed in 2017 after the ageing building suffered damage, council documents state.

There has been much frustration among St Helens people that the library in one of the town's major heritage assets has been left unavailable for so long.

St Helens Council says the "key site" will form part of transformation plans for St Helens town centre.

Hoardings have been put up at the building for what the local authority says is to "support initial survey works ahead of external and internal works starting later in the year".

A formal applications for the works are now listed on the council planning portal and are up for formal standard consultation to the public.

The application is for the proposed external repairs to the building to include replacement of windows with timber double glazing, new granite cill for ground floor openings, a reduction of chimney heights next to the lightwell, lead dressing to protect terracotta details on the gable coping and cornices and re-pointing and repair of roof tiles with like for like replacements.

A design and access statement in the plans concludes: "In summary, the range of works proposed will represent improvements to the building, while respecting its construction and also the heritage character of the conservation area".

Council reports state that work could start in June once a construction contractor has been appointed.

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An "estimated" date of January 2022 is pencilled in for completion of the repairs on the grand building's exterior.

In a statement the council said: "The building suffered water damage which made the lower levels unsafe for use and the works will initially focus on bringing the building back into use with future plans still be worked on to make The Gamble a public space that can be used in a variety of ways.

"Bringing the building back into public use is one of the features of the Town Deal Board’s Improvement Plan for St Helens Town Centre and the aim is to create a place that will be open to the community to provide positive services."

The Gamble Building – formerly Gamble Institute – was originally built as a library and technical school in 1896.

It was supported by funds from Sir David Gamble and was developed to support the advancement of technical and scientific skills among the local population.

In a statement, Councillor David Baines, Leader of St Helens Borough Council, said: “The Gamble is a landmark building that means a lot to all of us in St Helens. It belongs to the people.

"This funding is a crucial step towards making the building safe and ready for reopening.

“The Gamble is an important part of our St Helens Town Centre regeneration plans.

"It is a key feature of the Town Deal Board’s bid which was recently submitted for Towns Fund money and will be an important part of the town centre and our community for many years to come.”

The application is on standard consultation to the public until Thursday, April 15 with a determination deadline set for Tuesday, May 18.