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The new Lichfield Library is set to open its doors for the first time next week.
The £1.4million project to transfer the facility from The Friary to the ground floor of St Mary’s Church in the Market Square will come to fruition at 9am on 17th December.
The controversial switch had drawn criticism in some quarters with a petition opposing the plan when it was originally drawn up.
But Cllr Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Cabinet member responsible for libraries, said the project had safeguarded both sites: “It is so exciting to see this investment come to fruition.
“Not only does it guarantee a library in the heart of Lichfield for the next 30 years, the long-term lease underpins the future of this magnificent building by allowing the Guild of St Mary’s to develop the arts and performance side.
“This combined offer will be a great thing for residents, but also increase footfall and support nearby shops and businesses.”
The building, which dates back to 1870, has undergone a reservation which has seen the church’s 19th Century columns exposed and new etched glass screens introduced.
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The layout has also retained the altar, choir stalls and pews in an IT study area.
Other work has seen the a balcony introduced on the first floor and the creation of a flexible performance and exhibition space.
Nick Sedgwick, chair of the Board of Trustees for St Mary’s, said:
“We are thrilled that St Mary’s is now offering an exciting and varied programme of events in 2019, which are open to all, plus our Christmas events including a Christmas Cracker fundraiser on 14th December.
“The development of this unique venue would not have been possible without the help and dedication of our trustees, friends, supporters and donors so I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved.”
Cllr Ian Pritchard, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Environment & Development Services at Lichfield District Council, said: “We’re delighted to be moving our tourist information service back into St Mary’s.
“The building has been skilfully remodelled into a modern, vibrant and accessible community hub and we are thrilled to have played a part in its transformation and in its future.
“I am certain that St Mary’s is set to become a new heart of the city and play a significant role in boosting footfall and trade for local businesses. I would like to congratulate the team for delivering such a fantastic restoration and I look forward to watching it grow from strength to strength over the coming years.”