Morrisons Kirkby
Work has started on phase one the the Kirkby town centre retail development

Shakespeare North and St Modwen retail on Knowsley planning agenda

Amended plans for the 350-seat Shakespeare North theatre in Prescot and changes to a major retail scheme in Kirkby by developer St Modwen are due to be discussed by Knowsley’s planning committee on Thursday, with both projects recommended for approval.

The Shakespeare North theatre in Prescot town centre was first granted planning permission in April 2016, but has been resubmitted after a series of design changes, including the removal of its basement and a 20m increase in height.

The building’s footprint has also been increased while changes have been made to its cladding and glazing design.

The main elements of the building – a 30,000 sq ft Jacobean court-style threatre, a study centre, education and community resources, and exhibition space – remain unchanged.

Council planning officers recommended the rejigged planning application for approval, stating: “the proposal could create a new dimension to the town centre that is vital to the overall regeneration of Prescot.”

Three bidders are already lining up to build the project: Kier, Morgan Sindall, and Wates. The £26m scheme is also now fully funded, with a start on site planned for early 2018.

The professional team 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.

Also on the planning committee’s agenda is an application by St Modwen to build a 130,000 sq ft retail development at the site of Gala Bingo and Asda in Kirkby, both of which will be demolished.

The development includes a 46,000 sq ft Morrisons supermarket, 12 retail units, two drive-through fast food restaurants, and a petrol filling station.

Like Shakespeare North, the plans under consideration by the council’s planning committee are revised from a previous application. St Modwen’s latest application has increased the size of the supermarket from 39,300 sq ft.

Recommending the proposals for approval, council planners said the scheme was “an essential element of supporting and enhancing the viability and vitality of Kirkby town centre”.

“The retail development will replace redundant retail and leisure units that are currently being demolished as they are no longer fit for purpose.

“By siting the new development in an area that was occupied by these vacant units, the scheme is effectively revitalising an area of the town centre that was blighted.

“This retail regeneration scheme will provide an essential wider range of retail uses required to meet the needs of the local community.”

The developer first bought the site from Tesco in October 2015 for £35.8m.

Construction is due to start early next year and complete in 2019. The professional team includes Atkins as civil engineer, Urban Green as landscape architect, Saunders as architect and masterplanner, and Hopkins Coats Associates as M&E consultant.

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