A world class film and television studio is to be created in Leeds in a bid to make the city a hotbed for the industry.
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A large scale site will be based in Leeds city centre, consisting of six separate studio buildings, in a move it is hoped will attract new jobs and further investment into the area.
The old Polestar Petty print works on Whitehall road has been identified as the location for the new studio complex.
Leeds City Council is to take a head lease on the site from owners Caddick Group. It will then sub let the property to national operator Versa Studios who own and manage studios across the UK via their All Studios company.
All Studios recently announced it would begin filming productions from Manchester’s old Granada Television building.
Versa will link up with existing Leeds studio operator Prime Studios who will pay an instrumental role operating and managing the studio complex.
Prime has recently produced works such as The ABC Murders for the BBC, which stared Hollywood actor John Malkovich and Hope Gap staring Bill Nighy.
In a separate development, Caddick has also secured Opera North as a tenant in a 9,000 sq ft former warehouse on the Polestar site, which sits just 30m away from where the new studio space will be.
Opera North will use the space for storage and rehearsals.
The development is set to be put to members of Leeds City Council next week for approval.
The news follows the decision from Channel 4 to locate its national headquarters in Leeds as well as construct a new television studio in the city to broadcast its flagship news programme.
Elsewhere the Engine House building in Tower Works is also being redeveloped for use in the TV and film sector.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “This investment is a game-changing moment for the film and TV sector in Leeds.
“The sector has expanded significantly in recent years, so there is a real demand for more studio space to allow the industry to grow. The council is supporting this by bringing forward a number of new facilities such as the Engine House and the new studio.
“Not only will the new space be of huge benefit to the sector, but it will also create a number of new jobs and bring further investment to the city.
“In the South Bank we have seen growth in businesses in the creative and digital sector. The addition of these two new sites further underlines the commitment and appetite to continue this growth.”
Exciting time for the city
Johnny Caddick, director at Caddick Group, told The Yorkshire Post that it was close to completion on the studio developments which will then be fitted out by individual studio tenants to their specific requirements.
He said: “Leeds’s time is about to come and it is on the cusp of something special. This development is super exciting for the city
“Caddick Group is thrilled to be working closely with Leeds City Council to transform what was a derelict site into a new media hub that will help support Channel 4’s relocation to the city.
“From cities across the globe we can see how the creative industries are helping drive growth, support regeneration and create new high value employment opportunities and that is a lesson we are applying to both the Polestar Petty site and our new SOYO neighbourhood.”
Film industry excitement
Ben Hepworth, managing director at Prime Studios, said: “This is a ground-breaking development that will transform the film and TV production landscape in Leeds and we are delighted that Leeds City Council is working with Prime Studios to drive forward our ambitious plans.
“The large scale city centre studio development is vital to the continued growth of the local industry and means that for the first time, Leeds will have a world class studio offer that will firmly establish the city as a leading centre for international production.
“This is an incredible era for the screen industries in the UK, with film and TV spend reaching over £3.1 billion last year and the creative industries as a whole growing at twice the rate of the UK’s economy. The film and TV industries in Yorkshire have been invigorated in recent years, with Channel 4’s decision to locate their national HQ in Leeds further cementing our position as one of the most exciting and fastest growing out of London production hubs.”
Sally Joynson, chief executive at Screen Yorkshire said: “It’s no secret that Yorkshire’s studio offering has not been of the scale or quality that’s needed to operate in an increasingly competitive market, so this is a really important and most welcome development.