£ 70million plan to turn Littlewood’s Building into one of the UK’s biggest film studios

A major £ 70million plan to redevelop Liverpool’s iconic Littlewoods building into one of the country’s largest television and cinema complexes has been announced.

Liverpool council has provided details of its historic plans for the famous Edge Lane site – which it hopes could create 4,000 jobs and turn the city into one of the main television and film centers of Europe.

In addition to the creation of large studios, there are plans for new creative office space and new media facilities on the site.

The former art-deco headquarters of the Littlewoods Empire has been vacant for decades and is in serious disrepair, including damage from a fire in 2018.

Read more: Iconic 1950s building with stunning views could become a restaurant

A report, which will be submitted to the council cabinet meeting for approval next week, sets out proposals for a major two-phase redevelopment, with approval sought to begin a first phase of £ 8million remediation in the early 2022.

If approved, funding for the first phase will come from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and will be given to the building’s current tenants – Capital and Centric – to conduct site surveys, remediation work and rehabilitation. main project design.

The required £ 8million is part of a larger £ 17million funding package previously agreed to by the Combined Authority, of which £ 3million has already delivered to The Depot studios.

As part of this financing program, the current lease of Capital and Centric will be assigned and reassigned for a shorter period, in order to facilitate the delivery of repairs.

Work on the first phase will take around a year and once phase two has been fully costed this could lead to a full development contract.

For phase two to continue, fully costed funding is needed, with the combined board and authority planning to invest both £ 12million and a commercial lender being sought for the balance.

The project, which would be subject to a building permit, already has two major main tenants on offer – Twickenham Studios and Liverpool John Moores University.

The Littlewoods Studios program would include:

• 85,000 square feet of studio and ancillary space for Twickenham Studios, be operated by TIME + SPACE Studios.

• 75,000 square feet of educational space proposed for John Moores University in Liverpool to provide a state-of-the-art entertainment technology center to ensure that local youth develop high-level skills to work in the industry. industry.

• The third element would include 95,000 square feet of flexible employment space for the creative industries, which will be advertised in the marketplace for expressions of interest.

The Littlewoods Studios plan would also be seen as a complement to the recently funded Council and Combined Authority studio known as “The Depot”.

These two 20,000 square foot temporary filming stages, managed by the Liverpool Film Office, opened last month and have already received a flurry of bookings from a wide range of customers.

It is hoped that The Depot alone will create an economic boost of £ 24million for the regional economy, creating 360 new jobs and 760 indirect jobs and is among Liverpool’s 10 post-pandemic commitments to boost growth.

Liverpool is already the second most filmed city in the UK and currently hosts such illustrious productions as Sky’s Funny Girl starring Gemma Arterton and Channel 4’s The Curse from the team behind People Just Do Nothing. He also recently invested and supported Channel 4’s Help with Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham, The BBC’s Responder with Martin Freeman, ITV’s adaptation of The Ipcress File through his LCR production fund.

The BBC’s sixth series of Peaky Blinders, Doctor Who, Ridley Road, Netflix’s Stay Close, Sky’s COBRA: Cyberwar and major blockbusters such as Warner Bros’ The Batman and Netflix’s Munich: The Edge of War were also filmed in Liverpool.

Councilor Sarah Doyle, Cabinet Member of the Liverpool City Council for Economic Development, said: “The Littlewoods Studios program has the potential to be a game-changer for the city’s television and film industry, highlighting our growth in as a world class site.

“Liverpool’s offer has blossomed over the last decade to the point where you feel like you stumble upon a TV crew every other day or see the city on TV or in the movies every two weeks .

“The shift from being the ‘go-to city’ for outdoor shoots to one that can deliver productions with studios and talent supply to match our stunning backdrops is a goal the city must deliver, as economic and educational benefits are there for all. see.

The Littlewood’s Building was built in 1938

“The opening of The Depot Studios last month was a good start, but Littlewoods is on a different scale, which is underscored by the caliber of partners like Twickenham Studios and John Moores University waiting backstage. .

“This report describes the first steps in bringing this sleeping giant of a building back to life. If approved, we can provide the remediation and set the stage for phase two and make that dream come true, creating thousands of skilled jobs whose impact will be felt far beyond these studios. “

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City region, said: “Our region is a dynamic and innovative hub of creativity and talent. I want our funding to give local people good opportunities to succeed.

“Our heritage, our architecture, our talents and our people mean that we will always be able to attract film and television productions from around the world. But why can’t the actors come from Kirkby, the cameramen from Runcorn or the editors from Bootle?

“I want our region to be the ‘Hollywood of the North’ of the UK. We’ve already seen the launch of the first temporary sound stages and it’s fantastic to see our £ 17million investment to develop world-class facilities in Littlewoods take the next step.

“In the years to come I would love to see a production written, filmed, acted and produced in the Liverpool City area during awards season.”

Adam Higgins, co-founder of CAPITAL & CENTRIC said: “This is a pivotal moment for the Littlewoods project and will kick off the activity on the site. We have worked hard to get to this point, investing in developing the vision for the site and securing key tenants. We cannot underestimate how important this is a regeneration project for Liverpool, as evidenced by the support we have received from City Council and the combined authority.

“As well as consolidating Liverpool’s position at the forefront of the UK’s creative industry, it will bring many benefits to the people living nearby with thousands of jobs and millions invested.”

Professor Joe Yates of LJMU, Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies, which includes the Liverpool Screen School, said: “This development would give us the opportunity to provide the best facilities to our students and to industry, creating new opportunities for both.

What could the new Littlewoods Studios (CAPITAL & CENTRIC) look like
What could the new Littlewoods Studios (CAPITAL & CENTRIC) look like

“We are already teaching hundreds of students each year to tell a story and make a film, but this new LJMU facility, located with leading industry partners, would mean we could train people in Liverpool with the latest technology. best and most recent. from Hollywood.

“Filmmakers from all over the world will come here confident that they can make a successful film with the right equipment and the right people. “

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