The long-gestating plans for a major studio development in the Northwestern English city of Liverpool are finally going ahead.
The £70 million ($93.1 million) redevelopment of the iconic Littlewoods building, which would include major studios, creative office space and new media facilities, has been in discussions since 2018.
A report requesting permission for the scheme is going to the Liverpool Council’s cabinet on Dec. 3. If approved, the scheme could create almost 4,000 jobs, transforming Liverpool into one of Europe’s premier TV and Film hub and enhance the city’s reputation beyond being the home of The Beatles.
The scheme already has two proposed major anchor tenants in Twickenham Studios and Liverpool John Moores University, an arrangement providing a direct link between academia and industry.
The Littlewoods Studios will consist of 85,000 sq ft of studio and ancillary space for Twickenham Film Studios, to be operated by Time + Space Studios; 75,000 sq ft of education space proposed for Liverpool John Moores University to deliver a Entertainment Technology Centre to help local young people develop skills to work in the industry; and a further 95,000 sq ft of flexible employment space for creative industries.
Once approved, the art deco buildings once occupied by defunct British department store and football gambling company Littlewoods, will be redeveloped in two phases.
The first phase, which will take a year to execute, will involve remedial work to the site beginning in early 2022, costing £8 million. The 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 £8 million is part of a wider £17 million funding package previously agreed by the Combined Authority, £3 million of which has already delivered The Depot studios, which are located on an adjoining plot.
For phase two to proceed a fully-costed funding package is required, with the council and combined authority projecting to both invest £12 million and a commercial lender being sought for the balance.
Liverpool is currently hosting productions such as Sky’s “Funny Girl” and Channel 4’s “The Curse.” 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,” Warner Bros’ “The Batman” and Netflix’s “Munich: The Edge of War” were also filmed in Liverpool.
Councillor Sarah Doyle, Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “The Littlewoods Studios scheme has the potential to be a real game changer for the city’s TV and Film sector, underlining our growth as a truly world class location.”