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Emerging practice gets the go-ahead for Prescot Market Place makeover

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Bath-based Mark Wray Architects has won planning permission for a scheme to transform Prescot Market Place in Merseyside

The emerging practice won a RIBA-organised competition to mastermind the £495,000 overhaul of the market in August last year.

Knowsley Council has now given the go-ahead for the scheme, which has been designed around the concept of a Roman forum.

The design and access statement submitted with the application said: ‘A forum is the public square of an ancient Roman town where business and exchange took place, and is the origin of a market place. It is also a meeting or medium for open discussion of subjects of public interest.

‘The concept for reimagining Market Place captures both definitions, creating a new public space where the local community and can come together to meet, to talk, to observe and to take part.’

In addition, a former toilet block to the Western edge of Market Place will be altered, extended and repurposed as a pavilion, which could be used as a café, exhibition space, public hall, or teaching space.

The practice, working in partnership with Seed Landscaping, was selected ahead of Periscope, Charles Tashima Architecture, Blackstaff Architects from Belfast and OMI Architects of Manchester in the Knowsley Council-backed call for proposals.

The anonymous two-stage international competition sought ‘attractive and user-friendly’ proposals to transform the 800m² plaza, which has been at the centre of Prescot’s economic and social life for almost 700 years.

The project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is part of the Prescot Townscape Initiative, which aims to revitalise the town ahead of the opening of its £19 million Shakespeare North Playhouse, designed by Helm Architecture and Austin-Smith:Lord.

Prescot’s historic market place is situated within the Prescot Town Centre Conservation Area next to the Grade I-listed Prescot Parish Church, Grade II-listed Prescot War Memorial and the Cables Retail Park and indoor Prescot Shopping Centre.

The shortlist

  • Blackstaff Architects, Belfast
  • Charles Tashima Architecture, London
  • Mark Wray Architects, Bath, with Seed Landscape
  • OMI Architects, Manchester
  • Periscope, London
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