Shakespearean theatre plans discussed

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Ambitious plans to return a Shakespearean theatre in Prescot have been discussed in the House of Commons.

Prescot was the site of the only freestanding purpose-built Elizabethan era playhouse outside of London during the 1590s.

It was built by Richard Harrington, who was closely connected to William Stanley, the Earl of Derby, whose family home was at Knowsley Hall.

Now The Shakespeare North Trust is preparing to submit ambitious plans for a new Playhouse and education centre in Prescot which could transform the town.

At a special debate at Westminster Hall on Tuesday, St Helens MP Marie Rimmer and Knowsley colleague George Howarth set out the benefits of the plans for the local area.

At the centre of the Prescot Playhouse development would be a cockpit theatre built to original 1629 plans by renowned architect of the day, Inigo Jones.

It would become a major tourist attraction for the Liverpool City Region, bringing in visitors from across the world, creating jobs in Prescot and further afield, helping to create a night time economy and giving a significant boost to the local economy. It would also include a university college for literary scholars, a range of educational, leisure and community facilities, and a cultural piazza for performance and events, the MPs told the debate.

The Shakespeare North Trust has been working on plans for a Playhouse in Prescot for some years now with support from Knowsley Council.

The project now has real momentum behind it and it is expected that a planning application will be submitted to the council imminently. The Trust expects the cost of the project to be in the region of £19m.

The proposed site for the Playhouse is in Prescot town centre, on the existing Mill Street Car Park near to the 17th Century Grade I Listed St Mary’s Church.

If planning permission is granted, work could begin on the Playhouse in early 2017.