Shakespeare North transport interchange gets £8m funding

Knowsley Council is set to formally sign off £8.2m to begin major public realm improvements and upgrades around Prescot train station along with walking and cycling routes to the £26m Shakespeare North theatre.

The project is intended to provide better links to the £26m Shakespeare North, which is currently being built by contractor Kier. The 350-seat, 30,000 sq ft Jacobean court-style theatre also includes a study centre, education, and exhibition space.

The Shakespeare North transport interchange is set to transform the area around the railway station and features a shared-use walking and cycling route from the station to the town centre and on to the theatre.

It also includes a remodelled car park to up the number of spaces from 38 to 48; the additional of lifts to provide step-free access to the station and platforms; and better wayfinding and signage to direct visitors to the town centre and towards Knowsley Safari Park.

Funding has come from the Liverpool City Region’s Strategic Investment Fund to the tune of £7.9m; the majority of this will be drawn down between 2019 and 2021. There is also a local contribution of £186,000 to take the total funding package up to nearly £8.2m.

The contractors attached to the scheme are Tarmac and SSE; the two contractors will deliver all the public realm works, while Network Rail will deliver the new lifts and station access. Knowsley Council is set to sign off the funding at a meeting next week.

Kier is set to complete the theatre by December 2020, after beating rival bidders Morgan Sindall and Wates to the job last year; the public realm works are likely to complete around the same time.

The theatre has been backed by £5m from the Government, which was first announced by then-chancellor George Osborne in May 2016. The council is also providing £6m towards the scheme, with the remainder coming from a £14m contribution from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Single Investment Fund.

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