Council to invest £6m in Shakespearean theatre

A proposed Shakespearean educational theatre in Prescot is to be given financial backing from Knowsley Council.

Councillors have approved a £6m investment to help realise the £26m project and the plans are now scheduled to be considered at a Planning Committee on 21 April.

Bids are expected for further funding from the National Lottery. A spokesman for the council said: “We anticipate that the Shakespeare North Trust Scheme will cost in the region of £26m. In addition to the investment from the council, the Trust will be looking for funding from others – through fundraising, philanthropy and commercial sponsorship.”

Cllr Andy Moorhead, leader of the council, said: “This is a project of a significant scale, with a potentially transformational effect on Prescot, Knowsley and the wider Liverpool City Region.

“While the proposals still need to gain the necessary planning approval, it would appear to be very much in the interests of local people and businesses to do what we can to make sure the development happens. That’s why we have agreed a financial contribution from the Council to help to deliver this exciting project.

“In return for our investment, we anticipate that the scheme will deliver over £10m worth of value to the local economy, as well as 210 construction jobs and 57 full-time jobs once the facility opens. The theatre will also increase spending in the area by almost £1.5m each year. And, of course, it will also provide enormous educational and cultural opportunities for local people.

“It would put Prescot on the map internationally as an important visitor attraction, and would, in turn, be a huge boost not only to Knowsley but also to the wider Liverpool City Region.”

In July, Knowsley Council announced a £25.6m package of investment through reallocation of cash reserves, expected income and some ‘invest to save’ borrowing. The £6m investment in Shakespeare North will be allocated from the package specifically set aside for priority projects including those with the potential to improve and enhance town centres.

The proposals by the Shakespeare North Trust include plans for the creation of a 350-seater theatre and education centre in Prescot, designed by Helm Architecture. A planning application for the project was submitted in February.

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A visionary project that could replicate Liverpool’s cultural success out in Prescot and Knowsley and enable the ‘honeypot’ to grab a hold outside Liverpool city centre. With a new vision for Birkenhead just announced too, this is all good for the wider region. The sum of the parts can be greater than the whole. The wider city has a lot to offer and this will lead to much more sustainable regeneration long term. Sefton Park is looking great this spring by the way and Lark Lane always buzzing. Walked from Liverpool through Granby Four Streets yesterday (Turner Prize), to Sefton Park and the river, and you can see how the whole of the south of the city could come together. Work in progress at Granby but the heritage is impressive.

By Gwydion