The long-awaited £28m redevelopment of Liverpool's Everyman theatre has been given the go-ahead after Arts Council England pledged to invest £12.8m in the project.

The Everyman, which was created in 1964 in a converted chapel on Liverpool’s Hope Street, was rebuilt in 1977 but has not had any significant development since then. Today's announcement means that planning can begin for the creation of a “21st century building which will serve and inspire its community and future generations of artists and theatregoers”.

The redevelopment is being designed by architect Steve Tompkins, who was responsible for the redevelopments of London’s Royal Court and Young Vic theatres, and recently appointed to lead the planning for future development of the National Theatre. Work is due to begin in spring 2011 and will include a new 400-seat theatre, new rehearsal spaces, the recreation of the Everyman Bistro and dedicated spaces to house the theatres’ growing youth theatre, schools and community groups.

Architect Tompkins said: "I'm delighted that the Arts Council have put their faith in the Everyman as an indispensable cornerstone of Liverpool's cultural life. With this announcement we are a huge step closer to the reality of a rebuilt Everyman that will nurture the coming generation of artists and audiences, continue its long tradition of relaxed hospitality in Hope St and seek a place in the forefront of Liverpool's public architecture."

The Everyman and its sister theatre, the Playhouse, each of which narrowly escaped permanent closure in the 1990s, have both enjoyed a creative renaissance in recent years. The Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust was formed in 1999 to manage the venues, which between them have helped launch the careers of actors, writers and directors including Willy Russell, Alan Bleasdale, Julie Walters, Pete Postlethwaite, Jonathan Pryce, Antony Sher, Matthew Kelly, Bill Nighy, David Morrissey, Cathy Tyson and Ian Hart.

Everyman artistic director Gemma Bodinetz said of today's announcement: “This amazing news will allow us to create a new home for the extraordinary range of talent in this city, and to give Liverpool the Everyman it deserves. Liberated from cramped conditions and ancient technical facilities, the work on stage can flex its muscles and grow, in a building which harnesses the spirit of its beloved predecessor but is fit and inspiring for future generations of artists and audiences. 

“Perhaps most importantly of all, our work with young people and community groups will be right at the heart of the building, making it truly an Everyman for everyone.”