Plans for £26m theatre passed

A proposal to create a new Shakespeare North Playhouse and education centre in Prescot has been given the go-ahead by Knowsley Council’s planning committee.

Councillors voted unanimously in support of the development, designed by Helm Architecture, which is set to attract thousands of national and international visitors and students to the town and the city region. Prescot will once again have a Playhouse at its heart – an echo of Elizabethan times when it was the only English town outside of London to have a purpose-built indoor playhouse.

Peter Scott, chairman of the Shakespeare North Charitable Trust, said: “We are thrilled that the plans have been approved. This is a really important milestone for us and brings our dream of creating a fantastic theatre and education centre here in Knowsley a step closer to becoming a reality.

“Our vision all along has been to create somewhere in the North of England where Shakespeare’s work can be studied and enjoyed for generations to come– creating something of a triangle between The Globe and Stratford, both of which are synonymous with his work. With Knowsley’s existing links to Shakespeare it is fitting that the ‘triangle’ be completed with a development here.

“It is even more notable for us that we have been able to secure this approval so close to the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death 400 years ago, when the whole world is thinking about the ongoing cultural impact of his work on our lives today. Now we know that Prescot, Knowsley and the whole Liverpool City Region can join in those celebrations with extra fervour knowing that this exciting development is coming.”

The new Playhouse will stand just a few metres from the original site of the Elizabethan theatre.  As well as being an exciting space to perform plays the centre will also be a magnet for students from all over the world hoping to study Shakespeare and his work.

Funding for the project, which is expected to cost around £26m, is already being secured, with Knowsley Council having pledged £6m towards the costs of making the theatre a reality, with a further £5m confirmed from Government. Now that planning permission is in place, Shakespeare North Trust can proceed with securing further investment from other interested parties.

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A fantastic opportunity for the HLF to support the cultural legacy of Shakespeare in Prescot and Knowsley. The new Playhouse will no doubt also showcase the latest research interpreting the bard’s links to the Earls of Derby and therefore to Prescot. Prescot needs a boost like this and it will complement nicely the cultural offer in other parts of the city region.

By Gwydion

Meanwhile the education system in the borough has gone to hell in a handcart. A lovely project idea, but hardly a priority for Knowsley.

By John Brown

There is a distinct lack of leadership in this borough,if they cannot even provide A-Levels.Thought Oldham,my hometown was bad.

By Elephant

I think Prescot should have just been put into managed decline

By Gregg

Pesvner described Prescot as ‘the most perfect Georgian town’. This was a long time ago and the surrounding borough of Knowsley is now desperately poor. That doesn’t mean it is without hope and the Shakespeare theatre could mark a new beginning. Nobody would have believed Liverpool could revive the way it has 20 years ago. The same can happen in Knowsley but it will take lots of positive projects like this. You know, often the enterprise is there too but it takes a long time for this to filter down to the poor and the dispossessed. This project is a small green shoot that will reach out to some of Knowsley’s young people. And there’s still a lot left in Prescot to build on. It is the only area of Knowsley with the the latent potential of a sizable historic townscape perched on top of the hill to the east of Liverpool. I like Prescot, and good luck to Shakespeare North.

By Gwydion