Liverpool City Council is close to spending £1.8m on the purchase of the 11.5-acre MTL plot next to the former Littlewoods HQ on Edge Lane, completing the site assembly for the Liverpool Film Studios project.
The council’s cabinet next week will be asked to sign-off the purchase of the land, previously owned by Homes England and once the home of bus and coach group MTL. The project will be delivered by developer Capital & Centric, which has planning permission for the first part of the scheme at Littlewoods and plans to start work in the summer.
The Film Studios will be made up of office and support space in the 180,000 sq ft art deco Littlewoods building, for which C&C and the council agreed a 250-year lease in April last year. That deal included a six-acre plot fronting the building, which will house the first element of new-build – 40,000 sq ft of studio space and 5,000 sq ft ancillary.
C&C told Place North West that interest is already so high that the MTL site is required to expand the scheme further, with more studio, workshop and office space, as well as parking.
The firm’s director John Moffatt said: “The level of interest from potential tenants has been incredible, considering that we’ve not really marketed it yet, and we’re close to making some announcements. The council are really supportive of the project and have been proactive in securing the expansion site for future phases. We hope to be on site in the summer and have studios up and running before the end of 2019.” C&C last year delivered the 20,000 sq ft Bunker workspace project next to Littlewoods.
Liverpool is the UK’s most filmed city outside of London and the Liverpool Film Office recorded its busiest year in 2017 with 289 film and TV projects shot in the city, with 1,359 filming days providing an economic impact of £11.1m, the council said.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Liverpool’s digital and film industry has reached a tipping point where a major film studio would complete our world class offer and supercharge our plans to create one of Europe’s leading creative centres.
“We have unbelievably talented writers, actors, directors, technical crews and programmers, our Film Office and locations are second to none, and now with the Liverpool Film Studios we will soon have the very best in green screen filming and editing suites.
“This is a growing multi-million pound industry with the potential to deliver hundreds of highly skilled jobs and the purchase of the MTL site ensures the future growth of these studios and is a major statement of intent to cement our reputation as the Hollywood of the North.”
Moffatt concluded: “We’re well on our way to delivering a world-class filming destination for the UK, with one of Liverpool’s most iconic buildings at its heart.
“This is an important milestone in securing the land for our work at Littlewoods, where we’ll mix heritage and new build development to form a creative hub for the North. Demand for the space has blown us away and we can’t wait to announce our first residents in the coming months.”