Hopes remain that work could soon start on the former Littlewoods building which has been earmarked as the central piece of a new multi million film studios development.
In November 2021, plans were revealed which would look to transform the former Littlewoods building on Edge Lane into one of the largest TV and film studios in the UK. The £70m plan has been backed by Liverpool City Council and the City Region combined authority and requires additional private investment to deliver the full project.
As well as creating major studios, there are plans for new creative office space and new media facilities at the site. The former art-deco HQ of the Littlewoods empire has been vacant for decades and is in a state of severe dilapidation, including fire damage in 2018.
READ MORE: £70m plan to turn Littlewood's Building into one of UK's biggest film studios
Signed off by Liverpool City Council cabinet in December, the plans contained proposals for a major redevelopment in two phases, with approval being sought to begin an £8m remediation first phase in early 2022. Following approval, this funding is set to be drawn from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and be granted to current leaseholders of the building – Capital and Centric – to carry out site investigations, remediation and main scheme design works. Capital and Centric will remain the development partners on the first phase of the project.
The £8m required is part of a wider £17m funding package previously agreed by the Combined Authority, £3m of which has already delivered The Depot studios. For phase two to proceed a fully-costed funding package is required, with the council and combined authority projecting to both invest £12m, with a commercial lender being sought for the balance.
Providing an update on the progress of the first phase of the development, it was noted at a Liverpool City Council meeting last week that legal agreements between the Combined Authority and Capital & Centric are nearing completion. Once complete the £8m funding can be released and works could start on surveys, investigations, remediation and design works, according to the council report, later this year, or in early 2023.
In November 2021, when the plans were first revealed, it was noted that phase one works will take approximately a year to complete. Confirming to the ECHO that agreements are nearing completion, John Moffat of Capital & Centric said legal agreements are “almost in place” which will "enable us to kick-start the delivery of our vision."
Once phase one of the works are completed, it is proposed that phase two of will be fully costed with the potential to lead to a full development contract to complete the project.
Speaking about the progress with the legal agreements, John Moffat, Capital & Centric said: “Littlewoods will become one of the biggest film and television complexes in the UK, cementing Liverpool’s position at the forefront of the UK’s creative industry. One of the city’s largest regeneration projects, it’ll generate millions of pounds for the local economy and provide young people with career opportunities in a hugely exciting and growing industry. The legal agreements are almost in place which will enable us to kick-start the delivery of our vision.”
A Liverpool City Region Combined Authority spokesperson said: “The Combined Authority has earmarked £8m funding for Phase 1 remediation, design and planning work to prepare the former Littlewoods Building for development as film studios, which we continue to progress.
“The redevelopment of the former Littlewoods Building aims to create an internationally significant, 260,000 square foot film studio, commercial, creative employment, and educational space, which would enhance the city region’s reputation in culture and creativity, generate jobs across a range of skills and provide opportunities for the city region’s growing creative and digital cluster.”
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