At its meeting held in St Helens Town Hall today (Wednesday 11 January) St Helens Borough Council’s Labour Cabinet approved more than £500,000 of capital funding to progress to the next stage of bringing the iconic Gamble Building back into public use.
In October 2019, Cabinet committed to a five-phase property improvement programme to bring the much-loved Gamble back into full and sustainable use after it had to close in 2017 due to structural issues making lower levels of the 127-year-old building unsafe.
With phase three completed last summer, which involved extensive external restorations carried out to a high standard – including new windows, masonry repointing, terracotta repairs and work to the roof – the project will move onto phase four which will see Multi-Disciplinary Consultancy Services undertake RIBA stages two and three (concept design and spatial coordination) before the internal works programme can get underway. The appointment is being made from a national framework to provide value for money procurement for local authorities.
Funded from the budget pipeline to the capital programme – money earmarked for investment purposes that cannot be used to run essential services – the design activity will shape how a repurposed Gamble Building may look, with an open and welcoming ground floor to support a range of events and activities; library and café on the upper ground floor, as well as youth facilities on the first floor and commercial letting space on the second floor, with a new accessible entrance to support town centre regeneration plans, among the possibilities.
To finance the internal works needed to help the Gamble Building become a thriving community hub in the heart of St Helens town centre once more, a bid has been submitted for Government Levelling Up Fund Round 2, a delayed outcome for which is now expected by February.
Welcoming the cabinet report, Councillor Richard McCauley, Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, said: “Rich in heritage, the Gamble Building is the jewel in the crown in St Helens town centre and it has certainly got its shine back following an extensive external refurbishment.
“The quality of work is clear for all to see and has been done to a very high standard, from the detail of the brickwork to the terracotta mouldings – it looks absolutely fantastic and I’m sure residents will agree.
“We achieved a lot in 2022 in the way of regeneration on the back of a global pandemic, and we’re starting the new year as we mean to go on. This next stage will allow us to get the exciting designs in place and then we can crack on with internal works, which we know residents are right behind, so the Gamble Building can be reopened and return to its former glory.”