A restoration project which transformed a Lichfield church into a library and arts hub has won an architectural award.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) selected the St Mary’s project in the heart of Lichfield as the best building conservation in the West Midlands for 2019.

The £1.4m project saw the in Grade II* listed former church building converted into a library and tourist information centre on the ground floor, with a versatile gallery, heritage and performance space on the first floor.

The new-look St Mary’s

The work also exposed the church’s 19th century columns, incorporating etched glass screens from the old library into the new layout and retained the altar, organ, choir stalls and pews at the east end in the IT study area.

Announcing the award, the judges said: “The works have allowed the internal special beauty of the church to be revealed in a sustainable use.

“The stained glass windows are all now visible and add to the internal experience of light and colour.”

Cllr Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for libraries, said: “I am delighted by the recognition of all the expertise and high-quality work that has gone into transforming St Mary’s into a first class library and community performance venue that Lichfield, and Staffordshire, can be proud of.

“New members and visits to the library have both doubled from the previous building and book loans have rocketed.

“This commitment to the future allows St Mary’s Trustees to pursue other grants to develop what it can offer to the people of Lichfield and the increased footfall in the area will also support the local economy.”

The judges added that they commended Greenwoods, BHB Architects and Croft Building Conservation for the quality of their work on the project.

Nick Sedgwick, Chair of St Mary’s Trustees, said: “The Trustees are absolutely delighted that the RICS has recognised the contribution that the project made in securing the long-term future for this magnificent Grade II* listed building in the heart of the city.

“We are hugely grateful for the skills and expertise demonstrated by our consultant team and contractors to realise this vision.”

St Mary’s will now be entered into the national award later this year.

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