Progress update:

While we search for a suitable contractor to undertake the renovation works Real Ideas have been undertaking some preliminary works to ready the building for the main works. These preliminary works have included removal of dry rot from the site and undertaking a ‘soft strip’ of the building to get rid of old carpets, sanitaryware ceiling tiles etc

A contemporary library for everyone.

An engaging space, open longer and with a broad appeal.

Our vision is to create a renovated library building, to increase the numbers and diversity of people who practically use the library and to connect more effectively with the wider community so that Liskeard Library can be a gateway to experiences that support, enrich and extend activities across the town.

The budget for this ambitious renovation project is set at £1m.

The history

Liskeard Library is an original John Passmore Edwards Library, designed as a purpose-built library for the town of Liskeard in 1896, reflecting the beliefs of a Victorian benefactor and philanthropist that access to knowledge and learning should be available to all.

Over the years, various alterations have unfortunately stripped out many of the heritage features, instead adding partitions and sub-divisions to create a complex set of rooms, some of which are now unused.

The future

COVID has impacted our timescales, but we are now tendering for a contractor to complete the plans for Liskeard Library thoughtfully created by Cornish agency CFD Architects.

We are committed to bringing a library service back into the town centre, and are taking a phased approach so we can prioritise this goal.

We are currently tendering for a contractor for the project, if we are able to find a suitable contractor in this round of tendering we hope to have the ground floor ready to receive the library service back in summer 2022.

We have worked with a local design team for several months and following pre-application advice have developed a scheme to open up and simplify the layout to create attractive, flexible, contemporary spaces.

On the ground floor, the primary space will incorporate books, comfortable sofas, chairs and tables, good coffee and cake during the day. In the evening, it can work as a book club, a pop-up cinema, acoustic music event space or gaming environment.

There will be a kitchen, not only for use by the library but as a resource for local groups and entrepreneurs.

Currently redundant office space will be removed to create a courtyard, an inside/outside space to accommodate small-scale performance and visual art.

Upstairs, the focus will be co-working for creative businesses and social entrepreneurs with meeting and learning spaces to hire, plus business support, networking, and events. Excellent digital connectivity will be installed throughout the building, connecting with and supporting local creative industries.

All areas of the library, inside and out, will be equipped to allow flexible working by providing freely accessible wifi, comfortable seating and power points. Thus providing a combination of relaxed working and meeting spaces as well as the dedicated workspace on the first floor.

The financials

Some grant funding has been secured – £180,000 from the Architectural Heritage Fund and £260,000 from Cornwall Council, with a further £400,000 in the pipeline – to support the development and capital works required to bring the building into 21st century use. The budget for the full project currently stands at £1m.

The ongoing costs of running the library once open will be met through our social enterprise approach; using trading opportunities to generate sufficient revenue to cover the costs of providing a free to use library building and staff.

From our extensive experience of renovating and re-purposing buildings – Devonport Guildhall, Ocean Studios, the Market Hall in Plymouth, and C-Space in Newquay – we are confident we can develop a sustainable model capable of generating a small profit while offering a safe, accessible, freely available, contemporary library service and workspace for the people of Liskeard and south east Cornwall.

To become part of this exciting project and access our co-working space, as well as all of our other Real Ideas spaces, experiences and support; join our membership today. To find out about our different levels and what we can offer you, read more here.

The floor plans