Shakespeare theatre plan approved

Sculptor James Butler with his bronze statue of William Shakespeare
Sculptor James Butler with his bronze statue of William Shakespeare
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A proposed Shakespearean theatre in Prescot has been given the green light by councillors.

Shakespeare North Playhouse and education centre was given approval from Knowsley Council’s planning committee.

Councillors voted unanimously in support of the development, which will stand just metres away from the town’s old Elizabethan playhouse – then the only purpose-built theatre of its kind outside London.

The project, which is expected to cost around £26m, is now seeking investment from interested parties.

Peter Scott, Chair of Shakespeare North Charitable Trust, said: “We are thrilled that the plans have been approved.

“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.

“With Knowsley’s existing links to Shakespeare it is fitting that the ‘triangle’ be completed with a development here.”

The site is expected to attract thousands of national and international visitors and students to Prescot and the Liverpool City Region.

Knowsley Council estimates that the development will deliver over £10m of value to the local economy, while spending in the area could increase by almost £1.5m each year.

The project is also expected to deliver 210 construction jobs, as well as 57 full-time positions once the facility opens.

John Flaherty, Knowsley Council’s Executive Director of Place, said: “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.”

The council has already pledged £6m towards the cost of the site, while the Government committed £5m towards it in last month’s budget.

The news comes just days before the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death on April 23, and this poignancy has not gone unnoticed.

Professor Kathy Dacre, Chair of the Shakespeare North Development Board, said: “It is a fantastic testament to his legacy that his work is still exciting people and inspiring ideas like these.”