Liverpool City Council have set out the next steps on the long road to delivering a new film and TV studio in the city.
A report, which will go to the Council’s Cabinet next Friday (December 3), is requesting permission to unlock a potential £70M to redevelop the iconic Littlewoods building, which would include studios, creative office space and new media facilities.
The former art-deco HQ of the Littlewoods empire has been vacant for decades and is in a state of dilapidation, including fire damage in 2018.
The report sets out proposals to kick-start the long-gestating redevelopment in two phases, with approval being sought to begin an £8M remediation of the building in early 2022.
If approved, phase one funding will come from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and be granted to developers Capital&Centric to carry out site investigations, remediation and main scheme design works.
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, which are located on an adjoining plot.
Phase one works will take approximately aone year and once phase two is fully costed, this could lead to a full development contract.
For phase two to proceed a fully-costed funding package is required, with the council and combined authority projecting to both invest £12M and a commercial lender being sought for the balance.
The scheme, which would be subject to planning permission, already has two proposed major anchor tenants – Twickenham Studios and Liverpool John Moores University.
Once complete, The Littlewoods Studios scheme would comprise of 85,000 sq ft of studio and ancillary space for Twickenham Film Studios, to be operated by TIME+SPACE Studios.
There would be 75,000 sq ft of education space for Liverpool John Moores University’s skills and training facility Entertainment Technology Centre. The plan is for a further 95,000 sq ft of flexible employment space for creative industries, which will be advertised to market for expressions of interest.
Littlewoods Studios would complement the recently completed Council and Combined Authority funded studio, known as ‘The Depot’. These two 20,000 sq ft temporary filming stages, managed by the Liverpool Film Office, opened last month and according to the council have already taken number of bookings from a range of clients.
The city of Liverpool is currently hosting productions such as Sky’s Funny Girl starring Gemma Arterton and Channel 4’s The Curse from the team behind People Just Do Nothing. It also recently invested in and supported Channel 4’s Help starring Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham, BBC’s The Responder starring Martin Freeman and ITV’s adaptation of The Ipcress File, through its LCR Production Fund.
The BBC’s sixth series of Peaky Blinders, Doctor Who, Ridley Road, and movies such as Warner Bros’ The Batman and Netflix’s Munich: The Edge of War were also filmed in Liverpool.
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