Work is underway to develop a new café and outdoor performance space at Prescot’s Market Place.
Armitage Construction has started building the MATE Creative Bistro and Piazza, which forms part of a £600,000 transformation of the site through the Knowsley Council and Heritage Lottery funded Prescot Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).
The building and piazza are scheduled to open in January 2019 and will be operated by Gaynor La Rocca and her husband Francesco.
The couple will run the new venture at a peppercorn rent from the local authority in return for a wide range of events including comedy, poetry and film nights, an open-air cinema and pop-up performances.
Gaynor, who is artistic director at the Prescot-based theatre company MATE Productions, and Francesco, who works as a property lawyer with Weightmans LLP and is also an actor with MATE Productions, successfully responded to Knowsley Council’s call for proposals from interested community groups and companies who could bring Market Place to life.
The couple is also fundraising for a MATE story tent, which will provide a space for events and performances to go ahead whatever the where, and has received a number of donations from local businesses so far.
Councillor Graham Morgan, leader of Knowsley Council, says: “I’m delighted that the work to transform Market Place has now started.
“The THI has already made fantastic improvements in the town through the restoration of many buildings and this particular project will bring about a huge change to the town centre.
“I’m looking forward to its completion and to Market Place becoming a thriving heartbeat of the town centre once again.”
Gaynor adds: “Our vision is to create a community cafe, a meeting place for friends, a creative space for activity, entertainment and conversation in the heart of Prescot. We plan to host a range of events that will animate and bring Market Place to life all year round.”
Mark Wray Architects and Seed Landscape Design have redesigned Market Place as part of a global RIBA design competition which saw more than 40 different designs being submitted.