The regeneration of Littlewoods presents a crucial opportunity for Liverpool’s creative and digital sector  

Stephen Cowperthwaite, Chair of Liverpool Place Partnership,Principal and Managing Director Avison Young Liverpool

Stephen Cowperthwaite, Regional Managing Director for Liverpool and Managing Director of UK Regions at Avison Young UK 

By Stephen Cowperthwaite, Regional Managing Director for Liverpool and Managing Director of UK Regions at Avison Young UK 

Building on its strong artistic and cultural heritage, Liverpool has already established itself as a thriving hub for creative and digital innovation, encouraging sought-after talent, as well as many large corporations like Sony, to call the city home.

The Liverpool City Region’s place-based partnership and action plan with Innovate UK is just one example of the region’s continued efforts to nurture its thriving innovation clusters – including a growing network of digital startups and scaleups, based in areas such as the Baltic Triangle. 

Liverpool’s striking architecture also positions the city as a magnetic destination for film projects, with large-scale productions, such as The Batman and, most recently, Guy Ritchie’s film Fountain of Youth, shooting at landmark locations across the city’s skyline. And now, Liverpool’s creative sector is set for another significant boost, with progress underway to restore the iconic Littlewoods building, turning it into a specialist film and TV studio facility. 

The project has been in the pipeline for a number of years, with its promise to transform the city into ‘the Hollywood of the North’ stirring up excitement among residents and the wider creative and digital community. But now, with boots on the ground, the restoration of this legacy asset and its surrounding areas offers a unique opportunity for Liverpool, with the project set to further accelerate the growth of the region’s creative and digital sectors. 

As Avison Young supports its partners, including developer Capital & Centric, Liverpool City Council and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, to navigate the planning and consultation process for the scheme, this crucial restoration project shows great potential in supercharging sector growth while also prioritising the needs of local communities through significant wider regeneration. 

Littlewoods Film and Television Studios development CGI

Littlewoods Film and Television Studios development CGI

A growth catalyst for Liverpool’s creative ecosystem 

As referenced in Avison Young’s 2023 Liverpool Outlook Report, the creative and digital sector in the city is set for considerable expansion, with an anticipated growth rate of 10% (GVA) by 2028. It’s expected that these projections will continue to rise as the Littlewoods project gains traction, with the scheme having the potential to drive major film activity and key media players to the city. 

We’ve already witnessed similar growth in the North West, as the development of Salford Quays saw the arrival of the BBC and ITV. Liverpool’s £70m regeneration scheme at Littlewoods has the potential to replicate this appeal and cluster effect – which contributed to a 30% rise in creative sector employment in Manchester – strengthening the Northern Creative Corridor between the two city regions. 

Lying unused for decades, the restoration of the Littlewoods building is set to bring forward over 200,000 sq ft of film and TV studio facilities, as well as a mix of offices, workshops, performance space and other amenities – offering diverse opportunities amongst the creative, leisure and retail industries and stimulating the much-needed regeneration of the Edge Lane area. 

The significant ripple effect of such a pivotal scheme brings with it industry-shaping projections. Set to create 280 jobs during the development phase and over 4,000 jobs in the region’s creative industries once complete, Littlewoods will lead the rise in local creative and digital employment and economic growth, drawing in creative professionals, businesses and additional private investment. Its close proximity to the Knowledge Quarter also ensures that it will be a positive contributor to the quality of place that will help to attract new occupiers across multiple sectors. 

To unlock the annual economic impact projection of £57.8m from the scheme, the city will need to meet demand with a plan for new residential developments, while the thriving TV and film studio will have further implications for Liverpool’s core industries. Although the success of the development has the potential to increase property values and encourage further investment in local infrastructure, we also must assume that interest will expand beyond Edge Lane to Liverpool’s vibrant Baltic Triangle, building wider demand for businesses to enter the city’s thriving creative and digital ecosystem. 

Unlocking a bright future for Liverpool 

As the Littlewoods development starts to gain momentum, we’re already able to see the significant long-term implications this could have for Liverpool’s growth. From boosting the local economy and realising opportunity for further investment to strengthening the wider North West region’s proposition as a destination for creativity, this is an exemplar scheme that highlights the impact of long-term, successful public-private partnerships. 

Coupled with Liverpool’s flourishing startup ecosystem – and close, direct connection to Salford’s media hub – the future of the city region’s creative sector looks exceptionally bright, with Littlewoods set to drive forward continued growth and unlock new opportunities for Liverpool, its communities and its creative and digital businesses. 

For further information on Liverpool’s Littlewoods Film and Television Studios development click HERE.

Read more about Liverpool’s thriving creative and digital sector HERE.