The old Polestar Petty printworks on Whitehall road has been identified as the location for a new world-class TV and Film studio in Leeds.
With an increasing demand for more space to support the flourishing creative sector in the city, Leeds City Council is working with partners to bring forward a new TV and Film studio to more than double the amount of usable TV and film space. The sector is expanding quickly following key recent announcements of relocations to Leeds by media and TV giants Channel 4 and Sky.
At a meeting of the council’s executive board, members approved proposals to move forward with the large-scale site which could support up to six new studios and bring wider economic benefits to the city through new jobs and further investment in this area.
The council will take a head lease of the property from Caddick Group and that the council sub-lets the property to a national operator, Versa Studios, who own or manage studios across the country via their All Studios company which includes the new Manchester Studios. Versa will link up with existing Leeds studio operator (Prime Studios) who will play an instrumental role operating and managing the studio complex.
The site is in a key location between the main Film and TV hub in the city on Kirkstall Road and the South Bank, which is already home to over 500 creative and digital businesses. It is less than five minutes from the new Channel 4 headquarters and the railway station and would provide the much-needed space that the sector currently needs to facilitate further growth.
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.”
Johnny Caddick, director at Caddick Group said:
“As a Yorkshire-born and -bred business, 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.”
Caddick has also secured Opera North as a tenant in a separate 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.
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.”
Leeds is proving popular as a northern base, with corporations including Sky and sports streaming service DAZN already having a large presence in the city and Channel 4’s announcement has sparked a number of businesses in the creative sector to follow suit. Endemol Shine, the maker Big Brother, production company trade body Pact, the BFI and UKTV have all announced offices or initiatives in Leeds.
The council launched an Expression of Interest for television post-production companies to take a lease on the grade two listed property, The Engine House, located in the South Bank of Leeds. There has been a high degree of interest from the sector and this has provided assurance that there is demand for additional post-production in the city.
For more information and to view the report being presented to Leeds City Council’s Executive Board visit www.democracy.leeds.gov.uk