Revised plans for a Shakespeare theatre in Prescot town centre have been given the go ahead.
Full planning permission for the iconic Shakespeare North Playhouse was granted in April 2016 and now an updated design for the building has been approved by Knowsley Council’s Planning Committee (on Thursday 9 November 2017).
The plans for the building in the heart of Prescot town centre include a 350 seat theatre, education facilities, performance studio, exhibition area, office accommodation, a small shop, a coffee shop and bar and an outdoor performance area to accommodate an audience of 150.
The modified design now includes a dedicated Exhibition and Education Centre, the design of the external glazing façade has been refreshed and the building will no longer include a basement.
Cllr Graham Morgan, Knowsley’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development said:
“This is another significant milestone for this iconic development and a positive reflection of the council’s ambitious growth plans. The council, its private sector partners, the local community and local businesses are all working together on bold plans to conserve the history of Prescot while transforming the town into an even more attractive place for people to visit and spend time.
The Shakespeare North Playhouse will help us to achieve this, attracting visitors and investors to Prescot, Knowsley and the wider Liverpool City Region.”
Plans for a theatre in Prescot are more than 10 years in the making. The vision of Shakespeare North is to celebrate the Elizabethan heritage of Knowsley and bring Shakespearean theatre back to the area that has an important place in the history of Elizabethan drama.
The proposed site of the Playhouse on the current Mill street car park has been carefully considered and researched and is very close to the site of the only purpose built playhouse outside of London in Elizabethan times.
The Shakespeare North Playhouse will run its own Masters Programme in Shakespearean Performance Practice allowing students to train in a real theatre with real actors and will be validated by Liverpool John Moores University.
The Playhouse will also offer development opportunities for the local community and a broad education programme for schools.
Knowsley Council has contributed £6m towards this development and the National Government has contributed £5m, which has been endorsed by Arts Council England. Knowsley Council has submitted a bid to Liverpool City Region Combined Authority for £6.5m. The remaining funding will come from philanthropic giving, private donations, foundation fundraising and further grants applications managed by the Shakespeare North Playhouse Trust.
The main contractor will be appointed in December and pre-construction work will start from February 2018 with all construction expected to be completed by April 2020. The first Masters students are expected to start their studies in October 2020.
Before construction, there will be an archaeological investigation of the site, starting on 4 December. Earlier site investigations discovered remains of medieval and post-medieval artefacts.