Firefighters from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service attended the blaze at the site close to Edge Lane in Liverpool shortly after it broke out yesterday evening. Tony McDonough reports
Developer Capital & Centric (C&C) says it is “extremely hopeful” a plan to turn Liverpool’s former Littlewoods building into a film studio complex will still go ahead despite Sunday’s devastating fire.
Firefighters from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service attended the blaze which broke out shortly before 8pm on Sunday. The fire is now under control but fire crews remained on the site as of this morning.
C&C, a Manchester firm which has successfully delivered a number of property schemes in Merseyside, has a 250-year lease on the iconic building, and unveiled plans in June for Twickenham Studios, the UK’s oldest film studios, to locate to the site, close to Edge Lane.
The deal will see two new Hollywood-ready sound stages constructed on land next to the existing building, with supporting workshops; wardrobe and prop storage; and offices located in the east wing.
C&C says the west wing of the building – with the clock tower – has suffered damage to the floor and roof. The fire was contained to this area and did not spread to the east wing or the central linking building, thanks to efforts from the fire crews.
Adam Higgins, co-founder of C&C, said: “Last night was extremely difficult for our team, the city and the many thousands with a connection to this landmark building. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the fire service, who battled throughout the night to save as much as they could.
“While there is damage to the floor and roof, the walls of the west wing and overall structure seem intact. We’ll know more once we can get inside, but we’re extremely hopeful that we’ll be able to save the iconic structure that people see from Edge Lane.
On Monday morning, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson visited visited the building, which is owned by Government agency Homes England, and said: “I visited the Edge Lane site to see the damage that has been caused by the fire to the Littlewoods Building.
“The damage has been concentrated in the wing of the building that contains the iconic tower, in the end furthest away from Edge Lane. This is devastating and depressing news, but what is positive to report that the damage is not extensive.
“The fire mainly damaged the wooden internal structures, wooden partitions and staircases. This morning I met with engineers and Capital & Centric and hopefully the retaining walls and supporting steel is intact.
With luck, this iconic Liverpool landmark, which survived the Second World War, can be restored. Our heartfelt thanks to Mersey Fire and Rescue service who worked through the night and stopped the damage from being far worse.”