Work has started on a £2.7 million project in Toxteth to convert a former catholic church and the site of its old parish hall into 16 affordable homes.
The charity Housing People, Building Communities (HPBC) in partnership with housing company Onward, is building 11 three-storey townhouses within the shell of St Bernard’s on Kingsley Road.
On the former parish hall site adjacent to the church, a three-bedroom detached house will be built along with four two-bedroom ‘cottage style’ apartments. All properties are for shared ownership.
Whilst not listed, St Bernard’s, which dates back to 1901, is one of the few surviving Victorian buildings in the area.
It is considered a building of interest, having been designed by Pugin & Pugin – the sons of Augustus Pugin, the architect who designed the interior of the Houses of Parliament.
In order to preserve the integrity of the building, Wirral-based architect Ainsley Gommon has kept external alterations to a minimum and incorporated as many original features into the properties as possible.
HPBC was gifted the church by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool, with the purpose of turning it into affordable homes.
This follows their success at delivering a 32-home project on a derelict former church school site adjacent to the church.
Bronwen Rapley, chief executive of Onward, the housing company undertaking the development work with the charity, says: “It is wonderful to be working alongside HPBC to save this much-loved building and breathe new life into it.
“It’s a privilege to be able to repurpose this piece of Liverpool’s heritage and deliver much needed quality family housing for the area.”
HPBC helps people onto the property ladder with its ‘sweat equity’ initiative which enables potential homeowners to reduce their deposit by £10,000 by giving 500 hours of work to the development. This could range from manual labour to offering a particular skill or talent.
The HPBC team will work with Onward and its contractor to ensure that home partner sweat equity forms an integral part of the church conversion.
The development work will take 18 months and is due to be completed late 2019.