Capital&Centric unveils its plans for £70m ‘Hollywood of the North’ Littlewoods Project

Littlewoods Project

Manchester developer, Capital&Centric, has unveiled plans for its Littlewoods Project in Liverpool, which aims to transform the former football pools HQ into ‘the Hollywood of the North’.

The social impact developer is working with Liverpool City Council and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to develop a TV and film campus on the main Edge Lane route in and out of the city.

The council is freeholder of the site and the combined authority is a funder. A detailed planning application has been lodged with the council, which includes the restoration and repurposing of the 1930s Art Deco building, with a working clock reinstated on the iconic tower.

As well as two new 20,000 sq ft studios for big budget productions on the adjoining land, the plans also feature spaces for offices, workshops, studio support facilities and an education facility. Tenants and visitors will also be able to take in spectacular views across the city from a new roof garden.

There are also plans to make the building more accessible to surrounding communities. The former canteen which was housed in a barrel-vaulted hangar is 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 will feature five small format cinema screens, an outdoor performance space and permanent foodhall.

Capital&Centric also wants to make the site, derelict for decades, greener and welcoming for locals. Plans include a lush, green courtyard which will be open to the community, as well as extensive greenery and landscaping that will pay homage to local screen stars past and present.

CGI of renovated clock tower

Elsewhere, a new public link between the site and the nearby Wavertree Park is planned. This is outside of the planning application but is a shared vision by the council and Capital&Centric to improve access and connectivity. The teams will work collaboratively to secure the relevant consents to enable its delivery and future maintenance.

The combined authority has committed up to £17m to develop The Depot – two 22,000 sq ft 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 Mayor Steve Rotheram’s vision for the site.

It’s anticipated that the Littlewoods development will create around 4,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the region’s creative sector.

The submission follows an extensive consultation earlier this summer, with the feedback overwhelmingly positive with people keen to see a new chapter for the historic building secured.

John Moffat, Capital&Centric joint managing director, said: “From the Batman to Taylor Swift, Liverpool’s stellar reputation as having every ingredient to make shoots a possibility has drawn big stars and production companies here. The Littlewoods Project is all about doubling down on the city being a compelling home for the sector, providing a missing piece of the jigsaw with more indoor studio space and vital support facilities.

“People have known for some time that the site is down to become a TV and film destination, but it’s a massive step forward to work up the detailed plans and show people what we’ve got in store for this iconic site.

“We listened to the feedback from our consultation and have made sure the Littlewoods Project won’t just be buzzing with those working in the creative industries, but will also open up to the community. We’ve done that with the lush gardens and the screening and performance space, where people will, for the first time in the site’s history, be able to visit and hang out.”

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “The Liverpool City Region has a long standing role as the country’s cultural capital and the development of the Littlewoods building is central to ensuring that we remain there. Establishing ourselves as an international hub for film and TV with world class facilities will be a really important string to our bow.

“We have become a magnet for film and TV productions from around the world in recent years – making us the UK’s most filmed location outside of London. But I want to take our region to the next level, to stake our claim as the ‘Hollywood of the North’.”

He added: “The £17m we’re investing into both Littlewoods and The Depot will be central in turning that ambition into a reality – helping us to cater for every stage of the production process and creating new jobs and training opportunities for local people.”

Damage caused by blaze

The future of the £70m Littlewoods Project looked in serious doubt following a blaze at the site in September 2018 which caused extensive damage.

Speaking the morning after the fire, Capital&Centric co-founder, Adam Higgins, 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.”

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