LJMU pulls out of £70m Littlewoods film complex
Liverpool John Moores University had agreed to take 75,000 sq ft at Capital&Centric’s proposed TV and film campus, billed as a key part of Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s vision to make the city the “Hollywood of the North”.
However, LJMU will now not be taking any space at the long-awaited 260,000 sq ft Littlewoods complex, Place North West can reveal.
A spokesperson for LJMU said that, while Littlewoods is a “remarkable project”, the university has opted to focus on investing in its existing estate.
“Screen, creative, digital and media disciplines are an important part of our portfolio,” the spokesperson said.
“To provide our digital and creative arts students with an exceptional university experience, we will continue to invest in our existing city campus facilities, but will not be leasing space in the Littlewoods project.”
LJMU was one of two anchor tenants lined up to take space within the development.
Twickenham Studios agreed to take 85,000 sq ft at Littlewoods in 2018.
When LJMU’s deal was announced two years later, it was hoped the two institutions would combine to provide a link between academia and industry through an ‘Entertainment Technology Centre’ that Capital&Centric described as the largest facility of its kind in the UK.
Twickenham Studios has not responded to requests for comment but Capital&Centric said the company is still involved in the scheme.
“We’re not doing the deal with LJMU as originally envisaged but we’re still in talks with them about being involved,” said John Moffat, developer at Capital&Centric. “This doesn’t change the overall vision for the Littlewoods Project, there will still be an education provider whether the university is involved or not and this doesn’t impact on the combined authority pressing ahead with funding.”
“The legal agreements are almost in place for us to kick start this massive regeneration project that will cement Liverpool’s position at the forefront of the UK’s film and TV industry, generate millions of pounds for the local economy and provide exciting job opportunities for generations to come.”
The news of LJMU’s decision to pull out of the project comes as legal agreements between Capital&Centric, Liverpool City Council and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority are nearing completion.
An update from the city council’s director of regeneration Mark Bourgeois on Tuesday evening said the signing of contracts would pave the way for the first phase of the project to start later this year or early next.
Once the legal agreement is signed, £7.1m of grant funding from the combined authority for the first phase can be drawn down.
The first phase comprises surveys, investigations, remediation and design works.
Overall, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has committed £17m towards the project.
A total of £9m is committed towards the creation of the facility, which will require additional third-party funding.
A spokesperson for the combined authority said: “The combined authority will be recommended to reconfirm its funding commitment [later this month], while the developer seeks new tenants for the development, as the project continues to offer significant benefits for employment and the development of the film industry within the city region.”
Liverpool City Council added that the withdrawal of LJMU from the Littlewoods scheme is “regrettable” but added it makes “no material difference” to the project and or the proposed funding arrangement.
A city council spokesperson added: “Talks have begun with other education partners to establish interest for when the scheme is ready to be delivered.”