Developer Capital & Centric is transforming the former Littlewoods Pools site in Liverpool into a £54m film and TV complex and has now secured a major new tenant. Tony McDonough reports
Developer Capital & Centric has secured a huge letting at its £54m Littlewoods Film and TV Studios project with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).
In one of the North West’s biggest commercial deals this year, LJMU will take 75,000 sq ft of space for an Entertainment Technology Centre, in conjunction with Hugh Baird College, focused on professional training for TV and film.
News of the deal comes just weeks after the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has agreed to an initial grant of £11m to help create temporary ‘pop up’ studios to be built on the site at Edge Lane, former home of the Littlewoods Pools operation.
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has identified the project as being a key part of his £8bn recovery plan for the Liverpool city region. According to economic analysis by consultancy Ekosgen, Littlewoods Studios will support up to 3,650 jobs and result in an annual boost of £199m (GVA) to the city region economy.
Capital & Centric, which has a long-lease agreement with Liverpool City Council at the site, has already converted an adjacent building, The Bunker, into a centre for digital and creative businesses.
Dubbed the ‘Pinewood of the north’, the facility aims to offer a sound stage for film and TV makers as well as post-production facilities. The UK’s oldest film studios, Twickenham, has already signed up as the anchor tenant at the complex.
LJMU will offer a full range of further and higher education courses, all designed to equip people in Merseyside for a job in the region’s growing film and TV sector. Vice-chancellor professor Ian Campbell said: “Our intention is to keep Liverpool ahead of the game, so the combination of training and talent pool are a key part of the recipe.
“Our renowned Screen School prepares professional film-makers, producers, digital artists, journalists and scriptwriters, and we will be working closely with our industry partners to ensure the talent pipeline supports this key sector in Liverpool’s economic future.”
Manchester-based Capital & Centric, which has already delivered a number of commercial schemes in Merseyside, aims to have the Littlewoods complex fully operational by 2023.
Company co-founder Adam Higgins said: “Getting an education partner on board has been what we’ve been waiting for and it will ensure that local people have the right skills to take advantage of the huge opportunities on offer. Clustering film and TV with education is something pretty unique and Littlewoods Studios will be the biggest facility of its kind in the UK.”