The preferred construction partner for Knowsley’s multi-million pound Shakespeare North Playhouse has been named.
Knowsley Council cabinet members have agreed to appoint Kier Construction for the Prescot town centre scheme, with pre-construction work scheduled to start in April 2018.
An April 2020 completion date has been earmarked for the theatre, education and exhibition centre development to coincide with William Shakespeare’s birthday. The venue would then open to guests and students later that year.
As part of the contract, Kier Construction will work with Knowsley-based supply chain companies to help strengthen the local economy while the scheme is underway.
Meanwhile 11 new apprentice opportunities and seven new jobs will be offered through Knowsley Works, alongside work placements and training, education and community activities for local schools and residents.
The progress comes after an updated design was approved in November 2017 for the building, which will incorporate a 350-seat Shakespearean theatre as well as education facilities, performance studio, an exhibition and education centre, office accommodation, a coffee shop and a bar.
Once complete the Shakespeare North Playhouse is expected to create 19.5 new direct jobs and 203 off-site permanent posts, as well as bringing £5.3 million GVA to the Liverpool City Region and attracting approximately 111,000 visitors per year.
Councillor Andy Moorhead, leader of Knowsley Council, says: “I am delighted that Kier Construction has been appointed to build the Shakespeare North Playhouse. This is another important milestone for the project and I am looking forward to seeing the start of construction.
“I am proud to lead this council in bringing such rich cultural and educational experiences to our residents and the wider community. It is a really exciting time for Prescot, Knowsley and the Liverpool City Region.”
John O’Callaghan, managing director of Kier Construction Northern, adds: “Sitting in the heart of the town, Shakespeare North Playhouse will be a real asset to the local community when complete and we’re looking forward to working with the local supply chain to deliver this project and develop the skills of local people with the creation of 11 new apprenticeships.”
A total of £11m has been secured for the scheme so far including £6m from Knowsley Council and £5m from the government, which has been endorsed by Arts Council England.
A full business case has also been put forward to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Single Investment Fund in a bid to secure a further £6.5m, and applications for additional grant funding totaling £1m are also underway.
Cabinet members have also agreed for the council to underwrite the funding gap over the construction period to enable the works to start whilst philanthropic, foundation and public fundraising continues.