Home Knowsley Council Knowsley’s Shakespeare North Playhouse shortlisted for Planning Excellence Award
Shakespeare North Playhouse Exterior May 2022

Knowsley’s Shakespeare North Playhouse shortlisted for Planning Excellence Award

by Lisa Bennett

Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot has been shortlisted in the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Excellence 2023.

The awards, now in its 46th year, showcase and celebrate the best plans, people and projects, recognising and highlighting the positive contribution planning professionals make in communities around the world.

Knowsley Council submitted the Shakespeare North Playhouse project for the Excellence in Planning for Heritage and Culture category.

The ground-breaking Shakespeare North Playhouse opened to the public in July 2022. The multi-million-pound venue in Prescot is home to the only 17th-century style, timber-built “Cockpit” theatre outside London, able to seat 450 spectators.

The modern, energy-efficient building is also home to a fully accessible outdoor performance garden funded by the Sir Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation, exhibition gallery, 60-seater studio theatre, learning centre, events spaces, and a café and bar with outdoor piazza.

Since its opening, the Playhouse has welcomed more than 100,000 visitors, engaged with thousands of school children, and hosted more than 1,000 events and performances.

Knowsley Council’s ambition to deliver the Shakespeare North Playhouse has spearheaded the renaissance of Prescot and the wider borough of Knowsley, which has seen significant economic growth and investment over recent years.

In Prescot alone, more than 1,000 new homes have been built, the bus and train stations have been transformed and historic buildings and spaces have been restored. The town has also benefited from public realm improvements, the installation of public art works and new bespoke paving which have all helped to attract new businesses, and bars and restaurants to create a burgeoning food and drink offer.

Cllr Tony Brennan, Knowsley’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development said:

“I’m delighted that the Shakespeare North Playhouse project has been shortlisted. This ambitious project was many years in the planning, led by a team of dedicated Council Officers and a hugely supportive team of experts who worked collaboratively with us.

“Shakespeare North Playhouse has had a hugely positive effect in Prescot. Before construction even started, there were signs of the ‘Shakespeare effect’ as new bars and restaurants opened in preparation for the influx of expected visitors. Since opening, the Playhouse has welcomed more than 100,000 visitors through its doors, engaged with thousands of local school children and hundreds of people from the local community. This is a massive boost for Prescot and indeed Knowsley and it’s wonderful to see Shakespeare North Playhouse achieve exactly what we wanted it to achieve and make Prescot and Knowsley a place where people want to live, work, invest and visit.”

Winners of the RTPI Planning Excellence Awards will be announced in June.

Award winning Playhouse

Earlier this year, Shakespeare North Playhouse was named Theatre Building of the Year and in its opening week it was named Liverpool Sub-Regional project of the Year and Knowsley Council was named Client of the Year at the North West Regional Construction Awards.

Arts Council England recently confirmed the Playhouse as a “National Portfolio Organisation”, meaning that funding has been secured for three years – a great achievement recognising the Playhouse’s vision, high quality, and early impact.