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Work starts to prepare former Littlewoods building for film and TV future

Work has officially started on site as part of plans to transform the former Littlewoods building into a world-class film and TV campus.

Social impact developers Capital&Centric have begun work to prep the 1930s Edge Lane icon for restoration. They’re working with Liverpool City Council as freeholder of the site and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as funders.

A remediation team has today (12 December) started on site. The first step will be a comprehensive strip out of the buildings and securing their structural integrity, preparing them for repurposing and restoration.

This first phase of work – expected to run until next summer – will pave the way for main contractors to move in, with two new 20,000sq.ft studios for big budget productions the first to be constructed on the neighbouring land.

The team gathered on site to celebrate the major milestone, with the Littlewoods Project planned to cement the city’s reputation as an international hub for film and TV production.

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.”

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.”

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has committed up to £17m to develop The Depot – two film and TV studios now open off Liverpool’s Edge Lane and managed by Liverpool Film Office – and larger studios in the adjacent Littlewoods building as part of a vision to turn the city region into the ‘Hollywood of the North’.

The planned new sound stages would take around a year to be built and become operational. The programme for repurposing the existing building is longer due to the complexity of dealing with the existing structures which are set to feature spaces for offices, workshops, studio support facilities and an education facility.

Capital&Centric submitted a planning application for the vision last month, with Liverpool City Council expected to determine the plans in early 2024.

Once complete, tenants and visitors will also be able to take in spectacular views across the city from a new roof garden, with a working clock reinstated on the iconic tower.

There are also plans to make the building more accessible to surrounding communities, with the former canteen (housed in a barrel-vaulted hangar) to be transformed into a multi-purpose screening and performance zone, which will be for the use of occupiers on site, and then open up to the public out of hours. It’ll feature five small format cinema screens, an outdoor performance space and foodhall.

It is all part of a joined-up approach to ensure Liverpool remains at the top of the list when directors and scouts are making decisions about where to base their productions. From music videos to major blockbusters, the city’s streets are rarely off both the small and big screen.