Funding boost for Shakespeare North Playhouse and Prescot town centre

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has today approved a package of circa £14million from its Single Investment Fund for the Shakespeare North Playhouse and Rail Interchange project in Prescot.

The funding will contribute towards the construction of the Shakespeare North Playhouse and major upgrades to Prescot train station and transport connections in the town centre.

The Shakespeare North Playhouse is an iconic new theatre and education space that will celebrate Knowsley’s links with Elizabethan drama and Shakespeare himself, attracting visitors and students from all over the world.

The improvements to Prescot train station will help to accommodate people travelling to and from the Playhouse and provide a welcoming visitor experience to the town.

Metro Mayor for the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram said:

The Combined Authority exists to enable transformative change for the people of the Liverpool City Region and these two projects certainly fit with the bill.  We are determined to ensure that the whole of the city region benefits from devolution so backing Knowsley in this way is a statement of intent.

“The Shakespeare North Playhouse is a hugely ambitious scheme which will attract jobs and investment, as well as visitors to the city region, and the new rail interchange will make a big difference to people’s lives.  These are exactly the kinds of schemes we should be backing through our Single Investment Fund and I’m pleased we were able to support them to the tune of £14m.”

Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council, said:

“This funding approval is a fantastic boost for Prescot and indeed Knowsley and the wider Liverpool City Region. The Shakespeare North Playhouse will become a major visitor attraction for Northern England, attracting people from across the globe to the region and providing something completely new and unique.

“The Playhouse is already having a positive effect on Prescot, as new homes are being built and new businesses are opening in the town – restaurants and hotels, all in preparation for when the theatre and education centre open in 2020. Alongside new jobs, education opportunities and access to world class cultural activity, Prescot is becoming an even more attractive place for people to come and visit and spend time and for businesses to invest.”

Prescot has a fascinating link with Shakespeare and Elizabethan drama. In Elizabethan times it was the only English town outside of London to have a purpose built indoor playhouse and the support and patronage of the Earls of Derby at Knowsley Hall played a notable part in the development of Shakespearean drama.

At the heart of the Shakespeare North Playhouse will be a reproduction 350 seat Jacobean theatre based on the Inigo Jones’ Cockpit-at-Court built in 1629 while other parts of the building will include education facilities, studio theatre, exhibition area, café/bar and outdoor spaces.

It is estimated that the Shakespeare North Playhouse will generate over 100,000 new visitors to the Liverpool City Region each year from across the UK and internationally and the value of goods and services produced in the city region will increase by £13 million during construction and by £5.3 million each year following opening. The Playhouse is expected to create 20 new permanent full time jobs and around 175 full time jobs across the region and 185 temporary construction jobs.

The investment into Prescot train station will complement the Shakespeare North Playhouse and will include a remodelled car park with increased capacity, additional lifts in the train station providing access to both platforms, a new pedestrian and cyclist path and signage between the station, town centre and Playhouse to help direct visitors.

There are also proposals to illuminate St Mary’s Church, next to the site of the Playhouse, together with public realm improvements focused on Eccleston Street, making Prescot town centre an even more attractive environment.

Kier Construction has been appointed to build the Shakespeare North Playhouse, work has started on site and the main construction will start in summer 2018. The first phase of the transport improvements will start late summer 2018, commencing with the public realm enhancements between Prescot train station and the Shakespeare North Playhouse.

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