A proposal to create a new Shakespeare North Playhouse and education centre in Prescot, has tonight (21 April, 2016) been given the go ahead by Knowsley Council’s Planning Committee.
Councillors voted unanimously in support of this major development which is set to attract thousands of national and international visitors and students to the town and the City Region.
It means that 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, Chair 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.
As well as recognising Prescot’s rich heritage the development is expected to have a multitude of benefits for the town and the wider area today. It is estimated that the theatre and education centre will deliver more than £10m worth of value to the local economy, as well as 210 construction jobs and 57 full-time jobs once the facility opens. It is anticipated that the theatre will also increase spending in the area by almost £1.5m each year as well as providing enormous educational and cultural opportunities for local people.
John Flaherty, Knowsley Council’s Executive Director of Place, commented:
“It is fantastic that after years of planning and preparation Shakespeare North Trust has been granted planning permission for this regeneration project – it is a great news and really exciting day for Knowsley.
“Prescot is a small town with a big history and it is wonderful that that history is to be celebrated. The people of Prescot are quite rightly very proud of the town’s heritage and this theatre and education centre will be a fantastic way to showcase that to the world.
“It has the potential to have a phenomenally positive impact on Knowsley and the wider area and we are committed to playing our part to realise these benefits for our community and indeed for generations to come.”
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.
Professor Kathy Dacre, Chair of the Shakespeare North Development Board said:
“As we approach the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on Saturday it is a fantastic testament to his legacy that his work is still exciting people and inspiring ideas like these.”
You can read more about Shakespeare North’s vision on their website.