As part of the plans to turn Liverpool’s former Littlewoods building into a premier film and TV campus, work has officially begun on the site.
Capital&Centric, social impact developers, have started preparing the iconic Edge Lane building from the 1930s for restoration. They are collaborating with Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, the site’s funders, and Liverpool City Council, the site’s freeholders.
On December 12, a remediation team began working at the location. In order to prepare the buildings for restoration and repurposing, a thorough stripping of the buildings will be the first step in ensuring their structural integrity. The primary contractors will be able to move in after this first phase of work, which is anticipated to last until next summer, is finished. The next big project on the neighbouring land will be the construction of two new 20,000 square foot studios for high-end productions.
The Littlewoods Project, which aims to solidify the city’s standing as a global centre for film and TV production, brought the team together on location to commemorate the significant achievement alongside Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region.
John Moffat, Joint Managing Director of Capital&Centric, said:
“Whilst Liverpool is the UK’s most filmed location outside London, the city needs to keep upping the ante. Not only will The Littlewoods Project draw in productions, it will unlock opportunities in the creative sectors for locals for years to come. Having submitted detailed plans to Liverpool City Council last month, getting started on site is a major moment and the beginning of realising shared ambitions for the Littlewoods Project.
“There’s loads to be done before the main restoration can get going. The next six months will see an intensive period of remediation activity inside the iconic building, which will then pave the way for construction of the new build studios and Littlewoods’ re-birth as a cultural destination that Liverpool can rightly proud of.”
As part of Mayor Rotheram’s plan to transform the city region into the ‘Hollywood of the North’, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has committed up to £17 million to develop The Depot, two film and TV studios currently open off Liverpool’s Edge Lane and managed by Liverpool Film Office, as well as larger studios in the nearby Littlewoods building.
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:
“The past few years have seen our area become a backdrop to some of the biggest film and TV productions on our screens. It’s safe to say that we’re building an enviable reputation as the most filmed location outside of London – but I’m never content with resting on our laurels.
“The £17m we’ve invested into Littlewoods and The Depot will ensure that our area can continue to cater for every stage of the production process and attract the thousands of jobs and training opportunities it will bring with it. Today takes us one massive step closer to turning that vision into reality and staking our claim as the Hollywood of the North and I can’t wait to see this development start to take shape.”
The construction and implementation of the new sound stages is expected to take approximately a year. Due to the intricacy of repurposing the existing structures, which include spaces designated for offices, workshops, studio support facilities, and an educational facility, the programme for doing so is longer than expected.
Councillor Liam Robinson, Leader of Liverpool City Council, said:
“The remediation of the Littlewoods Building is a watershed moment for Liverpool’s TV and film industry. It marks the end of all the talking about the vision for this iconic site and the beginning of the action to make the dream a reality. Today is like going from script readings to first day of shooting. The excitement and anticipation of what’s to come is palpable. Yes, there’s some hurdles still to clear, but we know what the ending looks like and how to get there. I can’t wait for the day it opens and people get inside to start making their own film-making dreams come true and showcasing Liverpool’s phenomenal ability to make magic happen on screen.”
Liverpool City Council is anticipated to make a decision on the plans in early 2024, after Capital&Centric submitted a planning application for the vision last month.
When finished, tenants and guests will also be able to enjoy breathtaking views of the entire city from a newly constructed roof garden, where the famous tower’s working clock will once again be present.
Additionally, there are plans to improve the building’s accessibility for the neighbourhood. The former canteen, which is located in a hangar with a barrel vault, will be converted into a multipurpose screening and performance space that will be available to occupiers on-site and to the public after hours. It will have a food hall, an outdoor performance area, and five small-format movie screens.
All of this is a part of a coordinated strategy to guarantee that Liverpool stays at the top of the list when scouts and directors are choosing locations for their productions. From big-budget blockbusters to music videos, the city’s streets are rarely absent from both small and large screens.