A state-of-the-art film and television studio is a step closer to being created in Leeds after a contract was signed for work at the former Polestar Petty printworks site.
Leeds City Council has agreed a lease the Whitehall Road plot - hit by a fire three years ago - to enable the operator, Versa, to convert the premises into new facility which will be known as Leeds Studios.
Earlier in the year the council’s executive board approved a decision that the authority would take a head lease of the property from Caddick Group, which is currently refurbishing the building, and then sublet to national operator Versa Studios, which would in turn convert it into six new studios ranging from 8,000 to 22,000 square feet.
This week, contracts have been signed between Leeds City Council and Caddick Group, and the council has also received approval to loan Versa £1.6 million to complete external acoustics work ahead of the studio opening in 2020.
The new studio will more than double the amount of usable TV and film space, says the council, as the sector is expanding quickly following recent announcements of media and TV giants Channel 4 and Sky opening in the city.
It comes after the National Film and Television School also announced that it would open a "hub" in the city.
Melanie Jones , managing director of All Studios, which will operate the new site, said: “We are very much looking forward to launching Leeds Studios in 2020.
"Having close contacts within all sectors of the TV and Film industries , and in particular Sky and Channel 4 both having made significant investment in the city, our vision is the creation a very meaningful media cluster around what will be known as Leeds Studios.
"We are excited to be formalising our partnership with Ben Hepworth of Prime Studios [on Kirkstall Road], already in the city and taking this project forwards together.
"Leeds Studios will be specifically targeted at TV and film drama making but we will also encourage a cluster of supporting infrastructure including post production companies . It is likely we will also develop a multi camera studio facility in the future to meet demand as it grows in Leeds for this type of space.
"Our sister company has already created a tech and media cluster at Leeds Dock and will continue to grow the estate, where Leeds Studios will also have a base for supporting business’s, together with the on-site facilities at Whitehall Road following the simultaneous acquisition of Kidd House which will be converted into a media services building .”
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “It is fantastic news that we have made such progress over the last couple of months to now be in a position where we are able to hand over to national operator Versa to start bringing the physical side of the studio to life.
“With Channel 4 recently landing the first of their staff in the city this month, it is a an extremely exciting time for both this sector and our city as a whole as these new additions bring wider economic benefits to the city through new jobs and further investment in this area.”
Johnny Caddick, director at Caddick Group said: “This is an exciting development for the city and the Caddick Group are proud to be a part of it. Creativity and culture are a major part of Leeds’ DNA and Channel 4 moving here demonstrates what we can offer to major industry players. This new film and TV studio is just one of the projects, along with our SOYO [Quarry Hill] development in the cultural quarter, which aims to grow the city by providing positive regeneration for all, creating jobs and great places to live.”