Liverpool John Moores University signs up to £54m ‘Hollywood’ plan

The proposed 'Hollywood' project

Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) has been confirmed as the education partner at the much-anticipated Littlewoods Film and TV Studios being developed in the city by Capital&Centric with Liverpool City Council.

According to property agents CBRE, it is is the largest commercial letting in the North West this year.

The deal will see LJMU co-located alongside Twickenham Studios and providing a direct link between academia and industry in what will be the largest Capital&Centricof this type of facility in the UK.

Named after Littlewoods founder John Moores, the university has signed up to take more than 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.

The redevelopment of the former pools building will include a ‘Hollywood-standard’ filming complex intended to supercharge Liverpool’s booming film and digital entertainment industry and make the city the digital entertainment capital of the UK.

LJMU will be offering a full range of further and higher education courses, all designed to equip local youngsters for a job in the region’s rapidly-growing film and TV sector.

There are also plans to reach out to local schools through social impact developer Capital&Centric’s award-winning ‘Brainery’ initiative.

Co-locating education alongside industry is key to maximising the huge regeneration potential of the project, which will support up to 3,650 jobs and result in an annual boost of £199m (GVA) to the local economy.

Vice-chancellor Prof Ian Campbell said the university was proud to partner with Capital&Centric, Twickenham Studios, Liverpool City Council and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to deliver this transformational development for the city.

“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,” said Prof Campbell.

“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.

“The Screen School will have a new additional base at the complex and we shall shortly be announcing a new suite of undergraduate, postgraduate, post-professional and short courses to open up new vistas in research and high end skills for young people and help cater for the needs of these growing industries.”

LJMU is the second anchor tenant after Twickenham Studios and takes the Liverpool development to more than 60% pre-let.

The remaining 100,000 sq ft will include office accommodation for companies in film, TV and digital sectors, and event space open to the public in the evenings, with a café-bar and 150-seat screening room.

Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital&Centric, 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.”

He added: “In its heyday Littlewoods was the biggest employer in the area and where many people aspired to work. We want to bring that feeling back and get local kids excited about a career in film and TV and see that there are real jobs at the end of their studies.”

A £17m funding commitment from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Fund was announced last month, with the project identified as a key component of the Liverpool City Region’s £8.8bn ‘Building Back Better’ economic recovery plan.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor Liverpool City Region, said: “I’m proud that our region has a pre-eminent place as a cultural capital known across the world.
“The Littlewoods Studios development is central to ensuring that we keep, and continue to grow, that reputation. Last month the combined authority approved a £17m investment in the development and it is a key part of the city region’s Building Back Better economic recovery plan, so it’s great that LJMU is now confirmed as the educational partner in the project.

“This will help drive the region even further as a centre of excellence in media and film production and provide skills and employment for years to come.”

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “I’m delighted that Liverpool John Moores University, in conjunction with Hugh Baird College, has signed up to the Littlewoods Film Studio scheme.

“The university has a fantastic screen school and their involvement will add a unique educational element to the project. One of the key goals of the studios for the council is to use it as a base to support skills and training to develop an inclusive and highly-skilled screen workforce.

“This partnership will provide invaluable career-making experiences for students. It’s a great development, one which will further strengthen the city’s reputation in this key creative sector and develop a solid platform to support more productions and jobs in the future.”

Prof Anthony Lilley, chairman of the The Creative District Improvement Company (Twickenham Studios), said: “As we build back better from COVID-19, we, at TCDI, are thinking long-term – and so are our partners in Liverpool.

“Our UK-wide network of studios, of which Littlewoods will be a key part, rests on the foundations of a highly-skilled workforce and a world-class supply chain of companies both in the creative sectors themselves and in everything from catering to carpentry, electrics to accountancy – all of which are needed to form a successful creative cluster.

“We thrive when working together with universities, colleges and schools and are delighted by our strong and rapidly-developing relationship with our co-tenants, LJMU.

“We look forward to many years of success together.”

The 10-acre Littlewoods Studios will be up and running by 2023, with temporary ‘pop up’ studios to be built by Liverpool City Council on neighbouring land by the end of the year.