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Fire at Littlewoods building will not hamper site ambitions, say developers

The roof and flooring at the building was badly damaged as flames took hold on Sunday evening.

A blaze at the former Littlewoods building will not “hamper” the ambitions for the landmark site in Liverpool, say its developers.

The roof and flooring at the building was badly damaged as flames took hold on Sunday evening.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) said crews were confronted with a “significant” fire that at one point saw an area measuring 200m x 100m alight.

However, firefighters were able to prevent the whole site being engulfed and the 1930s Art-Deco structure’s integrity is thought to have withstood the blaze.

The fire in Edge Lane was brought under control at about 1.30am on Monday as crews spent the rest of the day damping down at the scene.

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Firefighters battle the huge blaze in Edge Lane, Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

The former Littlewoods Pools building has been empty since 2003, although a £50 million scheme to transform the site had recently been announced.

Among the proposals was to build film and television studios at the site, potentially bringing hundreds of jobs to the area.

Adam Higgins, co-founder of the building’s developer Capital & Centric, said: “Last night was extremely difficult for our team, the city and the many thousands with a connection to this landmark building. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the fire service, who battled throughout the night to save as much as they could.

“While there is damage to the floor and roof, the walls of the west wing and overall structure seem intact. We’ll know more once we can get inside, but we’re extremely hopeful that we’ll be able to save the iconic structure that people see from Edge Lane.

“The building is so important to the social heritage of Liverpool and has always been at the heart of our plans to create a hub for TV and film. We won’t let this put us off.

“The city’s outpouring of goodwill for our restoration plans has floored us. This is a setback but we won’t let it hamper our ambitions for Littlewoods to be the home of Liverpool’s creative industries.”

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.

MFRS area manager Paul Murphy said the size of the building made it “extremely difficult” for crews to deal with the blaze.

“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.

“We are all Merseyside firefighters and this building is as much iconic to us as it is to anyone else, so we are really pleased that we have been able to prevent further spread of fire.”

The building on Edge Lane was built in 1938 and was part of the football pools’ coupons arm of the Littlewoods empire, built up by self-made tycoon Sir John Moores.

A series of redevelopment plans have fallen through over the years.

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