Shakespeare North Cgi External

Bidders line up for £26m Shakespeare North

Jessica Middleton-Pugh & Charlie Schouten

Three main contractors are lining up to build Prescot’s £26m Shakespeare North Playhouse, with the project set to go out to tender before Christmas this year.

Kier, Morgan Sindall, and Wates are all expected to bid for the scheme, which has been backed with £5m of funding from the government. The government funding was first announced by then-chancellor George Osborne in May 2016, and Arts Council England confirmed the award of the fund in May this year.

Knowsley Council has also provided £6m towards the scheme, with the remainder coming from the Combined Authority Single Investment Fund, and private backers.

It is understood that all the remaining funding for the project has now also been secured, allowing Shakespeare North to start on site in early 2018.

The 330-seat, 30,000 sq ft Jacobean court-style threatre in Prescot town centre will also provide a study centre, education and community resources, and exhibition space.

The professional team already in place includes Helm Architecture as lead architect; Austin-Smith: Lord as support architect; Mott MacDonald as structural engineer; and Aecom as M&E, cost, and acoustics consultant.

Plans for the project were approved by Knowsley Council in April 2016.

A new playhouse was first proposed by the Shakespeare North Trust in 2007, but stalled after a failed bid for National Lottery funding.

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Knowsley Council is exhibiting a model of the new theatre at its stand at MIPIM UK

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Great news for Knowsley and those who have persevered over the years.

By John Smith