With more than 6,000 people having a say on the future of Liverpool’s bombed out church, the coming weeks are bound to be nail-biting for, Ambrose Reynolds, the man who spent years "minding" the place.
Six weeks ago, the city council embarked on a public consultation exercise over the future of St Luke’s Church at the top of Bold Street.
The site is currently closed with urgent remedial work about to start to make the building safe.
Reynolds and a team of volunteers have been tirelessly looking after the church for 10 years, building up a worldwide following with high profile supporters including Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono and Holly Johnson.
It could include seeking expressions of interest for the appointment of an occupier/operator to run the site in the new year
On the day he handed back the keys to enable the project to start he admitted to Liverpool Confidential he was close to tears.
He had nursed the old building, devastated by the Germans in the 1940s, as though as it was his child, but at the same time bringing events, happenings and a high profile to the roofless living war memorial that, 10 years ago, nobody else cared about.
In March last year, plans were put forward by Signature Living to turn the church into a glassed-roof wedding venue after Mayor Joe Anderson announced that he would be willing to sell it for £1. But after a public outcry the Mayor threw the suggestion out. He pledged to keep the Leece Street bulding in public ownership and said he would be seeking to secure a viable future for it.
The consultation launched on 20 August and ran for six weeks to gauge views on how it could be preserved as a living war memorial, the type of events that should be held there and what further facilities or possible development should be carried out.
Today the council said it will now compile the results and publish a summary in the next month, with the results used as the basis to make decisions about its future.
“It could include seeking expressions of interest for the appointment of an occupier/operator to run the site in the new year. The successful party will have to demonstrate that they can offer a viable future for the site, in line with the results of the public consultation,” said the city council.
That must, for the moment, make Ambrose Reynolds ponder on his chances of seeing the keys returned to him or handed over to a new minder. He and a group of volunteers have already put forward a business plan to run the place, created by LIPA graduate Ashley True.
Cabinet Member for Regeneration Councillor Malcom Kennedy said: “It is clear from the response we have received that there is a great deal of love and affection for St Luke’s.
“The number of responses we have received demonstrates the importance of this historic site to the people of Liverpool.
“We will now start analysing the responses and the results will inform the future use of the site.”
It comes as the city council prepares to commence the first part of a three phase project on October 14 to repair the structure of the church, funded jointly with Historic England.
The structural works will mean that the church and gardens will be closed to protect public health and safety.
A restoration open day will be held during the works to allow members of the public to visit the site and find out more about the restoration process - details of how to book a place will be released in the near future.