The proposed £12m refurbishment of Liverpool’s art deco Philharmonic Hall has moved a step closer following the submission of a detailed planning application and listed building consent to Liverpool City Council.
The new plans include significant alterations to front-of-house areas and the construction of a new space for small-scale performances at the rear of the hall.
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic was successful in its application for seed funding of £634,000 from Arts Council England last year and appointed architects Caruso St John to lead a team which will develop designs for the refurbishment.
The architects were behind the masterplan for Tate Britain and also developed Rome’s Centre for Public Arts.
Plans will include rebuilding and improving the stage and choir performance areas in the main auditorium as well as new warm-up, practice and backstage facilities for both resident and visiting musicians and performers. The proposed new performance space will provide facilities for small-scale concerts, learning events and other activities.
However, audiences are most likely to be engaged by the improved front-of-house facilities. Lifts will be provided to all levels of the building ‒ something presently lacking ‒ and the foyer and bar areas will be improved, something which should improve over-crowding at sell-out events. Better box office facilities are also envisaged.
The plans are also timely. The original Philharmonic Hall, which opened in 1849, was totally destroyed by fire in 1933. Construction of the present hall began in 1934 and the refurbishment work will begin in Spring 2014 ‒ 80 years later ‒ with the hall remaining completely closed until October. The whole programme of work is scheduled to be completed in 2015, the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
‘Lodging our planning application with the city moves us another step closer to realising our ambition for the refurbishment of our home,” said Liverpool Philharmonic Chief Executive Michael Eakin. ‘As we plan the celebrations to mark our two forthcoming anniversaries, we believe our design team has developed architectural plans that complement and enhance one of Liverpool’s great buildings.’
Liverpool City Council has pledged a capital contribution of £2m, contingent on Liverpool Philharmonic securing a further £7.5m from ACE. The decision on the Phil’s Stage Two application to ACE’s Capital Grants programme will be taken in June. A number of private funding sources are expected to invest and a public giving campaign will be launched in September 2013.