Littlewoods Studio CGI 2
The 275,000 sq ft scheme has partial planning consent and an anchor tenant, Twickenham Studios, signed up

Littlewoods back on map with £17m boost

Sarah Townsend

Developer Capital & Centric is reviving plans to redevelop Liverpool’s former Littlewoods building, and hopes to launch a construction tender and start on site this year following a cash injection from the city region.

Capital & Centric aims to appoint a consultant initially to draw up fixed costs for the 275,000 sq ft scheme, before entering the detailed design phase with architecture studio Shedkm and launching a tender to appoint a main contractor in the autumn.

All being well, remedial works will start on site later this year, director Tim Heatley told Place North West.

The £54m project was named as a priority scheme in Liverpool’s Building Back Better economic recovery plan last week. An initial tranche of £11m from the Government’s Getting Building Fund, distributed by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, has been made available and will form part of a promised bigger, £17m package.

Under the plans, the Littlewoods Building on Edge Lane would be transformed into a hub for the film and television industry. UK-based Twickenham Studios has already agreed to take 85,000 sq ft of the scheme, and Capital & Centric is in talks with an unnamed education provider that would take the scheme to around 60-70% pre-let.

There would be other design-led workspaces for other tenants, and a central food and drink hall, which would sit between the building’s two wings. The existing structures have planning consent, but new-build elements still require consent so a planning application would need to be submitted in the coming months.

The property was ravaged by a fire in September 2018 and has continued to lay derelict, with plans shelved pending the resolution of insurance claims and other funding needs. Liverpool City Council owns the freehold of the building and Capital & Centric owns the long leasehold.

As well as enabling the developer to progress the construction and design plans for the site, the £11m will be used by Liverpool City Council to install temporary pop-up TV and film studios on neighbouring plots.

These studios, expected to be operational before the end of the year, will capitalise on current demand for studio space and enable the city region to start reaping the economic benefits of purpose-built studio space before the main scheme is completed.

Liverpool is the most filmed city outside London, with 1,750 film days recorded in 2019, involving 324 productions including Sky Atlantic’s Tin Star and Netflix UK’s The Irregulars, according to the combined authority.

Meanwhile, Liverpool Film Office, one of the oldest studios in the UK, is currently administering a £2m production fund to attract more filming in the city region and this week welcomed back the start of a number of productions.

The funding for Littlewoods came two days after the Government announced a £500m insurance fund to kickstart the UK’s TV and film industry, which has been stalled by Covid-19.

“It’s one of the bizarre side-effects of the pandemic that there has been renewed impetus for [stalled] schemes of potentially huge economic importance to Liverpool and elsewhere, and greater financial support for them,” Heatley told Place North West.

“[Littlewoods] is a beast of a project – it’s big and complicated – but will stimulate an untapped sector of the city region economy, one that employs highly skilled and well paid workers and is accompanied by a whole circus of support industries in TV and film production that mean its economic potential is huge.”

Built in 1938, the building was home to the Littlewoods Pools, the precursor to the National Lottery, and employed hundreds of people in Liverpool. It also played a key role in World War II, manufacturing a variety of items for the war effort, including five million parachutes.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Given the economic impact that coronavirus has had on our region, establishing ourselves as an international hub for film and TV with world-class facilities will be a really important string to our bow.”

Capital & Centric co-founder Adam Higgins added: “We know people have been frustrated that things haven’t moved more quickly but we’ve all been working really hard behind the scenes and with this funding in place we’re going to do everything we can to get on site before the end of the year.”

 

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This is fantastic news for Liverpool and the North .

By Anonymous

Liverpool’s desperately needed something like this for years, it already attracts the likes of Batman, Harry Potter and Fast and Furious etc here for filming, Imagine what we could attract with facilities like this. I can’t wait until it’s up and running.

By Anonymous

The northern powerhouse were probably hoping it would get condemned as a building. God forbid Liverpool having a media/film outlet and being a threat to their dream of a one city one horse race.

Let’s just wait to see what happens.

Sigh.

By Michael McDonut

A great opportunity for the poor city that gets nothing.

By Lloyd haha

Walking around Liverpool is definitely not a poor City compared to other cities we are blessed

By Anonymous

@Lloyd haha =jealousy is a very bad quality.

By Good looks

Its happening in Liverpool.

By Winwin

I always suspected there was something sinister about the arson due to the competition with other cities for a channel 4 regional base. No one wants to see Liverpool succeed.

By Michael McDonut

Excellent news this, will be great to see the site up and active as well as new jobs for the region. Most filmed location outside London, the city is right to capitalise on the opportunity.

By L17

This is great news. I love this building and I can’t think of a more fitting use for it. This being so close to where so much filming takes place will be a Game changer.

By Elephant

Hollywood, Bollywood, Pinewood, Littlewoods.

By Jane

Great for Liverpool, the most iconic city in Britain; and in one of the country’s most iconic art deco buildings!

By Red Squirrel

Will be interesting to see if there are any contractors left and willing to work on this?
Also, are C&C actually putting any money into this scheme?

By Fidel

Now they’ve gotten some free money perhaps they can finally crack on with it. They’ve been at it long enough endlessly talking about what they’re going to do, lets see some action.

By Oscar

Great news. Hopefully our politicians will acknowledge that the government has funded this, as well as many other schemes in the region, and will stop moaning about the region being the poor relations and constantly victimised. This attitude has done nothing to enhance Liverpool’s reputation and image.

By Forward Thinker

Lets see what Action! takes place(hopefully) This will be a great boost to the post production and ancillary sector in Liverpool

By Directors Cut!

Great to see this iconic building redeveloped. Although free handouts from the combined authority suggest that this was never a viable scheme. If only we all had bails out for schemes where the financial feasibility doesn’t stack up.

By rb

The main funding for the new studio is coming from Time & Space studios, not from the local authority. The local authority contribution is just a small fraction, but was part of the original agreement. That is because it will be used to boost local skills and employment through the establishment of a training and educational facility ( most likely run by LJMU) on the campus.

By JA

This is amazing news , Liverpool along side Hollywood Bollywoid etc the most filmed city outside of London , the city is unique , it feels global, it’s buzzing , it’s growing , it’s got ambition and drive , dont beleive everything they say down the M62 , they call Liverpool but ask the people that actually come to Liverpool from US , Australia , China on our open top tourist buses , fall in live with Liverpool all over again ..btw 17 million is just a small contribution the rest is private money, this will bring to the city and the advertisement and publicity alone is worth every penny for the city Netflxx Sky BBC.

By LIverkewl .

@Liverkewl, What do they say down the M62? Your obsession over Manchester is tedious.

By Anonymous

I love Liverpool but the constant references to Manchester are pretty lame.
Great news though.

By Anonymous

Yeah its great news Liverkewl. Down the M62? Are you talking about Wazza?

By Anonymous

How far is it from here to St John’s Beacon? Asking for a friend…

By Zippy

Capital & Centric are down the M62….I wonder what they say…ah that’s right they want this to be a huge success.

By Anon

Littlewoods was started by Sir John Moores who I believe was the first British self made Billionaire, although I may be wrong. Sir John was born in Eccles, so perhaps the Scouse/Manc parochialism could stop around this scheme. It is a great scheme.

By Elephant

Good thinking @zippy, it’ll look good in the likes of James Bond and Mission Impossible. You’re friend is on to something there. :-)

By Anonymous

John Moores of Littlewoods fame was a Manc too! He grew up 3 or 4 miles from the city centre near where the Bridgewater Canal crosses the Ship Canal.

By Howard

I used to love Liverpool.

By Anonymous

I know this post upsets a lot of people in manchester but get over it Liverpool has been chosen .

By Anonymous

@anonymous. It may come as a surprise to you but no one in Manchester probably cares.

By Poynton guy