NC Architecture | Wilmslow, Cheshire. Tel: +44 (0)1625 536767

Greenbank Synagogue, Liverpool

NC Architecture are delighted to have secured Planning and Listed Building Consent at Liverpool City Council Planning Committee, on 20th June 2017.

22 refurbished apartments in the Listed Building and 30 apartments as new build enabling in a four + five storey modern format, so as to compliment and not fight with the Listed Building itself.

This was one of the most difficult and challenging schemes the Practice has ever been involved with. The very exciting task of bringing this incredible Grade II* Listed Synagogue back to life, with a scheme that would combine both viable residential use and retaining the core spiritual social functions of the former 1,200 seat synagogue. 

Despite numerous objections by neighbours, civic societies, heritage bodies and several Ward Councillors, both Director Neil Collins and Project Architect Tony Kaba made a powerpoint presentation to the Planning Committee, ensuring that they were under no illusions, the decision being simply to "save the Heritage Asset or not."

The most sensitive aspect, that of the new build as enabling development, was the main thorn for most objectors, but having been asked by Committee Members time and again "what would you do as an alternative?" the answers were "well, nothing!"

Greenbank Synagogue was designed by Sir Alfred Ernest Shennan, built in 1936 and consecrated on 15th August 1937 for the Liverpool Jewish community. The Synagogue is architecturally by far the most important and innovatory 20th century synagogue in England and is the finest surviving in Europe dating from the inter-war period. It was built in the Art Deco style, reflecting Swedish architectural influences, setting it as a progressive building of its time. It also has important socio-historic significance as representing a cultural expression of European Jewry before the holocaust.

The Synagogue has a reinforced concrete and steel frame structure, with the external walls faced in golden brown hand cut bricks. There is a grand approach to the west front entrance up a flight of steps with three projecting bays with semi-circular headed curved brick arches.

Inside, a cantilevered gallery is wrapped around three sides and open at the east end with lunette windows. The innovatory ceiling configuration has a concrete barrel curve between the north and south of the building with intersecting concrete arches spanning west to east. This concrete canopy is understood to be the very first use of this architectural form in Great Britain and may have influenced similar concrete canopy designs during the 1960s.

In 1983 the building was listed and in 2008 the listing was upgraded to Grade II* to protect its future after the building closed for good and the congregation dwindled to fewer than 40, with only one service being held a week.

The retained building will house a refurbished small synagogue (Beth ha'medrash) for those remaining members and any others that wish to visit, plus a quiet room / display / reading area to sit in contemplation, whilst reviewing the buildings heritage and artefacts etc. A small coffee area will also be created at the far end of the new "internal street" adding to that sense of community, a cultural mixed-use facility of the highest quality.

Subject to Discharge of Conditions etc., works could progress as early as Spring 2018.


‘The Island’, 1st Floor Suite,
St. Ann’s Parade, Alderley Road,
Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 1HG

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