Littlewoods Building owner vows to press on with £50m studio plans

Damage caused by last year's blaze

The owner of the Littlewoods Building which was ravaged by fire last night have pledged to continue with their plan to turn the site into the ‘Hollywood of the North’.

Fire crews battled throughout the night to prevent the blaze spreading through the iconic Art Deco building on Edge Lane after fire broke out shortly before 8pm last night.

Manchester property company Capital & Centric and media group Twickenham Studios had announced plans earlier this year to convert the former football pools base into a state-of-the-art film studios, creating more than 500 jobs, with around 2,000 more in support services as part of a £50m strategy.

But as Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service continued dampening down operations this morning, Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital & Centric, said they plan to restore the stricken building and press on with their plans.

He said: “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.

“The building is so important to the social heritage of Liverpool and has always been at the heart of our plans to create a hub for TV and film.

“We won’t let this put us off.”

He added: “The city’s outpouring of good will for our restoration plans has floored us.

“This is a setback, but we won’t let it hamper our ambitions for Littlewoods to be the home of Liverpool’s creative industries.”

And he 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.”

The developer revealed that 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, due to efforts from Merseyside Fire and Rescue crews.

Plans for Twickenham Studios, the UK’s oldest film studios, to locate to the site were announced in June this year.

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.

The plan was to open the studios in 2020.

Investigators have not yet entered the building and the cause of the fire is unknown.

Capital & Centric said it will now be subject to an investigation by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.

The Littlewoods Building was built in 1938 by the Liverpool-based football pools empire.

During World War II it was requisitioned by the Government and was used to make barrage balloons.

In peacetime it was the printing centre for football pools coupons.

However, it had been derelict since 2003 before being acquired by Capital & Centric.