Hopes of converting the former Littlewoods building on Edge Lane into a film and TV complex have been in the making for the best part of a decade and are set to finally get under way in 2023.
After a number of proposals failed to get off the ground, both Liverpool City Council and the City Region Combined Authority committed to supporting the project at the tail end of 2021. The plans would see the £80m project undertaken in two parts, the first consisting of £8m worth of repairs and remediation, as well as drawing up detailed designs for phase two.
The £8m provided by the Combined Authority is part of a previously agreed £17m funding package, with contracts to release the repairs funding signed off in November 2022. Phase two would see both the City Council and Combined Authority stumping up a further £12m, with additional funding required for the balance.
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The three way contract has been signed by the two authorities and developers Capital & Centric who will lead on the redevelopment. Speaking to the ECHO in November about the plans, Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital & Centric, said he hoped for work to begin early in the new year.
But in the latest update the start of the timeline has now been pushed back to later on in 2023. Adam said the ambition is to now get workers on site within the next six months.
From there it will take “six or seven months to clean it all up and get it ready for the next phase, the studios and other operators,'' said Adam. One of the reasons for the extensive repairs is due to the building being vacant for nearly a quarter of a century, with dilapidation accentuated by fire damage in 2016.
Adam added: "People coming in on the M62 are seeing an eyesore at the moment, it will be really good and hopefully encourage other people and investment into the city. We hope to complete the remediation at the end of 2023, or in early 2024.”
Once funding is secured for phase two of the project to commence, Adam said this will take in the region of “18 months to two years” to complete, but the new studios on site hope to be completed prior to then. In total, the complex could be ready to open in late 2025, early 2026 if works remain on track.
The time frame may be long, but Adam is confident that demand for film and TV production in Liverpool will still be high once the studios are open for business. For now, the neighbouring ‘Depot’ pop-up studios are doing “a good job in the interim.”
But commuters driving along Edge Lane will notice some changes once work commences in the new year, even if the completion dates are still way off. Adam added: “[Once work starts] it won't look like an eyesore anymore. Everything is going to be in play for regeneration. The building is going to have branding on it, it’s going to be cleaned up. People will no longer see the fire damage.
“The past few years the Littlewoods project has been at the bottom of the valley and it has taken everything to try and get it going. Now there is this commitment and there is this expenditure being made.
“Now that there is this commitment I am very confident that the Littlewoods will get to its conclusion in the coming years and then we will actually start to see people operating from there.”
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