Shakespeare North
Credit: via planning documents

Funding increased for ‘high risk’ Shakespeare North

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has upped its investment into the proposed Shakespeare North in Prescot by £4m to £10m, after Knowsley Council bid for further funding due to increased project costs.

The plans for the 350-seat Jacobean court-style theatre in Prescot town centre have been mooted for a number of years, and are set to include a study centre, education and community resources, and exhibition space. Kier has been attached to the project as a contractor since 2018 and is on site with enabling works.

In May 2018, the Combined Authority approved £4m from its Strategic Investment Fund for the project, alongside a further £8m for transport improvements, including upgrades to Prescot train station.

Knowsley Council is leading on the project, and has doubled its own contribution to the scheme from £6m to £12.2m.There is also £5m backing from the Treasury which was announced in the Government’s Budget for 2016.

A report to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said that Knowsley had been progressing with the project since the Combined Authority funding was approved last year, however “project costs have increased and £3.5m in education-related funding is no longer available… increasing the burden on the public sector”.

While signing off the additional money, the report acknowledged Shakespeare North was “high risk” and said in its current form “it would launch with charitable funding remaining to be raised, business plan and key personnel not yet embedded, and a cost overrun risk”.

Despite this, the project remained a priority for the City Region as “a creative response to reviving Prescot, with the potential for the town to become an internationally appealing destination.”

The previous total project cost for Shakespeare North was £26m; the increased cost is yet to be confirmed.

Cllr Graham Morgan, leader of Knowsley Council, said: “This additional funding is another fantastic boost for the construction of the Shakespeare North Playhouse. Once complete, the Playhouse will become a major visitor attraction for the north of England, attracting people from across the UK and indeed the globe with its varied programme of productions and events.

“We are already witnessing the positive effect that the Playhouse is having on Prescot, as new homes are being built and a number of new bars and restaurants are opening in the town, all in preparation for when the new theatre opens. It is a really exciting time for the Prescot and for Knowsley.”

Construction work on the Shakespeare North Playhouse and the transport improvements has already started and is expected to be completed by 2021.

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Project Costs have increased. For that read public sector partner has entered into a 2 stage arrangement with Tier 1 contractor and surprise, surprise, costs have gone up significantly from Stage 1. When will these people ever learn.

By Oscar

White elephant alert.

By Shakey

Its not often we get anything withing a half mile radius of Liverpool city centrew

By Anonymous

Fantastic for Liverpool another 1st for the North in Liverpool

By Fran

Stupid waste of money

By Lester

This will be transformative for Prescot, Knowlsey, and for this outer area of LCR. ‘LCR’s’ centre of gravity was very much around this area, (in Prescot, Knowlsey and West Derby) historically, and Liverpool’s vibrancy needs to spread back out into these historic areas, bringing new life and new jobs to the whole area. What better way to do this in Prescot than through its historic Shakespeare connections.

By Roscoe

I believe that when this project is completed it will be a great addition to the visitor attraction mix in the LCR, what with this and other soon to be opened venues such as Strawberry Fields and other smaller enterprises the LCR will be host to a very enviable collection to suit all tastes and interests.

By Man on bicycle

For any lessons as to how a pivotal arts and culture venue can spearhead regeneration in a town, then i suggest people look at the Turner Cntemporary in Margate. Towns must play to their strengths and unlock their uniqueness.

By Adam Ash

Oh dear, poor old Knowsley getting led around the field by its nostrils again. Long overdue to close this failed authority down. Its education system is a disgrace, town centres a mess and employment base shocking. The only thing it has going for it is cheap housing and good motorway links to get out of the borough! You can bet that every leisure and community centre in the borough will eventually close to fund the revenue costs of this scheme. And the positive spin put on cost overruns by Cllr. Morgan fool nobody, least of all the poor Council tax payers in the borough.

By John Smith

This is a great beacon of light for Knowlsey. Yes, it’s a poor area, outer Liverpool, ‘overspill’, but Prescot has huge potential. Described by Pesvner as ‘the most perfect Georgian town’! That was a long time ago, true, but you can’t underestimate how important this is for Knowlsey. It sews the seeds of a much brighter future for areas like these on the ‘happening’ edge of Liverpool.

By Roscoe

Prescot town centre is dead, they should do more with all the shops that are empty, it’s would have been better if they built a Cinema, the people who I have spoken to said they think it’s a waste of money.

By Maureen

Following on from my previous comment, Margate town centre was dead before the Turner gallery came along. Since that time, it has completely reinvented. Don’t underestimate the importance of what this project could do for Prescot.

By Adam Ash

Now that the LCR has had to bail them out, let’s remember not to have any of this ‘Shakespeare North, Knowsley’ stuff when it eventually opens. It’s Liverpool.

By LEighteen

Adam Ash makes a valid point but Margate is on the Kent coast not between Wigan and St Helens. This should have been on the Liverpool waterfront.

By Elephant

For every Margate there’s a Walsall. And Prescot is much more like Walsall, trust me.

By Sceptical

Never knew Shakespeare hailed from Prescot. See, you can learn something new every day.

By D

Can’t wait for this to open!!!! It will make a positive difference to Prescot.

By Anonymous

Prescot has a connection to Shakespeare via the Earls of Derby and the only Globe type theatre in the North of England. With the college facility it should be a great asset for Prescot.


No parking no where for people to stay main contractor kier construction in money troubles and cost going up by the day KBC got it right again

By J bloggs