Major public realm improvements and upgrades around Prescot train station are due to commence, along with walking and cycling routes to the £26 million Shakespeare North theatre. The 350-seat, 30,000 sq ft Jacobean court-style theatre also includes a study centre, education, and exhibition space. Knowsley Council is set to formally sign off £8.2 million funding for this project.
Shakespeare North, which is currently being built by contractor Kier, will benefit from better links, which are 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.
The project also includes a remodelled car park to up the number of spaces from 38 to 48, additional 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.
Liverpool City Region’s Strategic Investment Fund offered £7.9 million and the majority of it 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 £8.2 million. Knowsley Council is set to sign off the funding at a meeting next week.
Tarmac and SSE are the chosen contractors for the scheme. They will deliver all the public realm works, while Network Rail will deliver the new lifts and station access. Meanwhile, 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 also likely to be completed around the same time.
The theatre has been backed by £5 million from the Government, which was first announced by then-chancellor George Osborne in May 2016. The council is also providing £6 million towards the scheme, with the remainder coming from a £14 million contribution from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Single Investment Fund.