Liverpool John Moores University has agreed to occupy 75,000 sq ft at Capital & Centric’s redevelopment of the former Littlewoods pools building, which it plans to transform into a centre for the film and TV industry.
The deal will see LJMU co-locate alongside Twickenham Studios and provide a link between academia and industry through an ‘Entertainment Technology Centre’ described by the developer as the largest facility of its kind in the UK.
Twickenham Studios has signed to take 85,000 sq ft at the 750,000 sq ft scheme, and the letting to the higher education provider takes its to around 60-70% pre-let, according to Capital & Centric.
The developer hopes to launch a construction tender and start building works on site this year following a cash injection from the city region in July. The £54m project was selected to receive an initial £11m from the Government’s Getting Building Fund, distributed by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, which will form part of a bigger, £17m funding package.
Capital & Centric had previously been forced to stall its plans for the scheme after the building was struck by a fire and an insurance claim had to be placed.
Littlewoods Film and TV Studios is intended to become a “Hollywood of the North” in Liverpool, according to the developer.
Under the letting, LJMU plans to create an Entertainment Technology Centre designed to equip local youngsters for a job in the region’s fast-growing film and TV industry.
LJMU will offer a range of further and higher education courses, and there are also plans to involve local schools through Capital & Centric’s ‘Brainery’ skills development initiative.
CBRE was the letting agent for the deal. The remaining 100,000 sq ft will include office accommodation for companies in the film, TV and digital sectors, as well as event space open to the public in the evenings, a café-bar and a 150-seat screening room.
LJMU’s vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Campbell, said: “Our intention is to keep Liverpool ahead of the game, so the combination of training and talent pool are a key part of the recipe.
“Our renowned Screen School [at the university] prepares professional film-makers, producers, digital artists, journalists and scriptwriters, and we will be working closely with our industry partners to ensure the talent pipeline supports this key sector in Liverpool’s economic future.
“The Screen School will have a new additional base at the [Littlewoods] complex and we shall shortly be announcing a new suite of undergraduate, postgraduate, post professional and short courses to open up new vistas in research and high-end skills for young people and help cater for the needs of these growing industries.”
Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital & Centric, added: “Getting an education partner on board has been what we’ve been waiting for and it will ensure that local people have the right skills to take advantage of the huge opportunities on offer.
“Clustering film and TV with education is something pretty unique and Littlewoods Studios will be the biggest facility of its kind in the UK.