Deconstruction underway of historic Littlewoods tower

Work is underway to demolish and eventually restore one of Liverpool’s most historic landmarks.

After years of false starts, progress on the redevelopment of the Littlewoods building on Edge Lane began in December last year. The long-derelict plot is to be repurposed into a 20,000 sqft film and TV studio which is hoped would make the city the Hollywood of the North.

Studies identified the next stage of the project requires the demolition of the historic clock tower sat between the two main buildings. Now, the process to bring down the structure has begun ahead of a proposed reconstruction.

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Digital analysis of laser monitoring - placed on the tower to track its movement and condition – has confirmed how in its current condition the tower is unsafe and could collapse if left.
A safe zone has now been put in place around the tower, with workers unable to enter that section of the site.

It will be carefully taken down in the coming weeks. The team plans for detailed photographic and survey records to be kept.

The intention is to rebuild the tower in the same spot, reusing elements of the original from the overhaul of the site. A planning application is currently with Liverpool Council for consideration and will include the rebuilding of the tower.

The tower, which is in a state of disrepair, is now fenced off for safety reasons with scaffolding around the structure to allow work to progress. Liverpool Council, with whom developer Capital&Centric is working as freeholder of the site, urged people in the area to be cautious while development is ongoing.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has helped fund the project, with Mayor Steve Rotheram, committing £17m.

John Moffat, joint managing Director at Capital&Centric, said: “We are entering a critical phase of the restoration, as we peel back the layers of the building following decades of it sitting empty. The building is revealing itself and showing us where it needs our input most.

“We’ve explored every option to secure the original tower structure in situ, but the conclusions of several teams of experts have confirmed we need to dismantle it, re-use as much of the material and recreate the tower structure. We want to do this soon.

“If the tower collapsed, it could not only cause severe damage to the rest of the building, but put lives at risk. Our priorities are keeping everyone safe and saving what we can of the buildings, working to minimise the amount of structure needing to be re-built.

“We’ve restored lots of listed buildings and our experience meant we always anticipated the ongoing remediation would uncover structural challenges. Dismantling the tower will cost more, but it’s a necessary last resort – one that can be covered under the existing project budget.

“It’s likely the building will look quite sorry for itself once the tower section is removed, but it will improve over time as restorative work progresses. Our intention is to record the structure in detail, keep what we can of the materials and rebuild it as part of the re-purposing of the site into a cultural hub for TV and film.

"Elsewhere on site, good progress is being made to clear out the buildings from years of debris and decay and prep the two wings for redevelopment.”

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