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Huge fire engulfs Liverpool’s Littlewoods Building

Littlewoods Building

A huge fire has destroyed parts of Liverpool’s iconic Littlewoods Building, leaving plans for a £50m redevelopment of the site in jeopardy. 

The redevelopment, recently announced by developers Capital & Centric, was to include a ‘Hollywood-standard’ filming complex and could have supported up to 2,000 jobs. Liverpool John Moores University was also in discussion about a new building on the site with a size of more than 40,000sq.ft.

However, the roof and an upper floor of a wing of the building on Edge Lane are feared to have been destroyed after flames took hold on Sunday evening. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said crews had been confronted with a “significant” blaze that at one point saw an area measuring 200m x 100m alight.

Firefighters were able to prevent the whole site being engulfed and the 1930s art-deco structure’s integrity was believed to have survived. The former Littlewoods Pools building has been empty since 2003.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said the fire was “absolutely heartbreaking” and “a real setback”.

“Let’s hope and pray its salvageable,” he tweeted.

Fire crews remained at the scene on Monday morning as they attempted to dampen down the site. Firefighters were first called to the building at 7:52pm on Sunday and the fire was declared to be under control at around 1.30am on Monday morning.

Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital & Centric, said the blaze had started in the west wing, which is known for its tower. The company tweeted: “Heartbroken tonight that our Littlewoods Building is on fire. Fire crews are trying to control it at the moment. Don’t yet know the extent of the damage but part of the roof  has collapsed. So upset :-(“

Twickenham Studios, the production company that had planned to move into the east wing as part of the new scheme, tweeted: “Very sad news. Hope all are safe and sound tonight. Thinking of you over there.”

An investigation into the fire was set to get under way on Monday morning.

Paul Murphy, area manager of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, said the size of the building made it “extremely difficult” for crews to deal with the fire.

“However, crews have worked extremely hard to battle this fire and have prevented it from spreading into the remainder of such an iconic building,” he said.

“It has been a challenging incident but we are in a position with the council where we feel the structural integrity of the building may remain intact.”

The Twickenham Studios project was to feature two new 20,000 square foot sound stages alongside supporting workshops, wardrobe and prop storage and offices.

The company has signed an agreement for the lease on a total of 85,000 square feet of space and had been due to become the hub’s anchor tenant.

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