lyceum powerhouse cgi

It was billed as a live venue and creative skills hub. Credit: Cheshire East Council

Crewe’s Lyceum Powerhouse to be pulled

The board overseeing the Town Deal programme has asked for council approval to drop the live music venue project, meaning £5m could be reallocated.

Recognising the ever-tightening issues around cost inflation and project risk, the town board has decided that the Lyceum Powerhouse scheme, which has a funding shortfall and by extent an uncertain delivery timeframe, is expendable at the moment.

That funding, should approval be given, can be allocated to more immediately realisable goals: Crewe has been allocated £22.9m through the Towns Fund and has secured business case approval from Whitehall to continue with a pocket parks project, the Flag Lane Baths community hub and Crewe Youth Zone.

A history centre is also included in the project list, with the associated public realm already approved, while the Cumberland Arena will offer improved sports facilities.

A further £14.1m has been secured from the Future High Streets Fund, while further support could come through one or more of the Levelling Up Fund, the Shared Prosperity Income Fund and investment zone development. Crewe is also on the shortlist to house the new Great British Railways HQ.

A report prepared for the 15 November meeting of Cheshire East Council’s economy & growth committee noted “significant and persistent cost inflation in the construction sector” posing a risk to all capital projects.

The Lyceum Powerhouse was billed as a “state of the art” live music venue and creative skills centre, providing development opportunities for young people in the performing arts. It was devised by Crewe Cultural Forum and HQ Theatres.

The report continued; “In relation to the Lyceum Powerhouse project, identified risks include the current funding gap and the uncertainty as to when/how this will be closed, delivery arrangements (including the requirement for soft-market testing to confirm operator interest), and the proposed programme which exposes the project to greater inflationary risk compared to projects which can secure contracts at an earlier stage.

“As a result, the Town Board has requested that a ‘change request’ be submitted to Government proposing that the Lyceum Powerhouse project be withdrawn from the Towns Fund programme, and requesting that the remaining unspent grant relating to this project be reallocated to other Towns Fund projects/activities.”

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