Knowsley Council has secured funding to progress a masterplan for an area of Prescot encompassing the £27m Shakespeare North theatre, a grade two-listed former museum, and other historic buildings in and around Market Place.
The area also includes the town’s largest disused development site, which extends from Market Place to the rear of Cables Retail Park.
The council said it has received a £1.55m Government grant, which it intends to match-fund with its own resources to deliver the Prescot High Street Heritage Action Zone due to complete in 2024.
The regeneration project includes:
- the restoration and conversion of 8-14 Kemble Street back to its original use as a cinema, including the retention of its auditorium that dates from 1912. The building’s current occupier, Prescot Community Church, is moving to new premises at Whiston Colliery
- the restoration and conversion of 24 Church Street – originally a townhouse, then a bank, and most recently the Prescot Museum – into workspace for small businesses in the creative, craft, arts and digital sectors
- the restoration and conversion of historic buildings in and around Market Place, including bringing empty floorspace and shopfronts back into use through a range of mixed-use schemes. Twoprominent buildings at either end of Market Place are included in the plans – the former HSBC bank and the former Red Lion pub.
- the masterplanning of a site on the corner of Sewell Street and Kemble Street, which extends from Market Place to the rear of Cables Retail Park. Archaeological investigations here are already underway
- public realm improvements around Prospero Place and Market Place to make the area more pedestrian friendly
- the establishment of a cultural consortium led by The Shakespeare North Playhouse to use Prescot’s heritage to bring more people to the town centre, as part of Knowsley’s Borough of Culture 2022 strategy.
Work started in January to build the 350-seat, 30,000 sq ft Jacobean court-style theatre in the town centre, and it is expected to open to the public in 2022.
Prescot’s Market Place was for centuries the commercial heart of the town, where the town hall, court leet and market hall, were located. However, a redevelopment programme by the 1950s and 1960s saw some key buildings and spaces lost or drastically changed.
Several historic buildings survived, though, and the area has been a designated conservation area since the 1970s.
Cllr Tony Brennan, Knowsley’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic development said:
“The High Street Heritage Action Zone follows the success of our Townscape Heritage Initiative improvements and comes at just the right time for Prescot, as lockdown measures are eased and shops, pubs and restaurants start to reopen.
“We will also see the opening of The Shakespeare North Playhouse midway through the programme of improvements that [the wider regeneration plan] will make to the surrounding area.”