Caddick Group, a Yorkshire-based family-run property development and construction business, is to transform the site of an old printworks in central Leeds into a brand-new TV and media complex, as Channel 4 prepares to open its new headquarters in the city.
The old Polestar Petty printworks was acquired by Caddick Group in October 2017 and is currently undergoing refurbishment to create 100,000 sq. ft. of warehousing space, spread over six units. Once finished, the project will more than double the amount of usable TV and film space in Leeds.
Under plans to be debated by Leeds City Council’s executive board, the council will take a head lease of the property from Caddick Group and that the Council sub-lets the property to Versa (Whitehall Road) limited (a new company which is part of a group of organisations who own or manage studios across the country, including All Studios in Manchester). It is the intention of Versa to enter arrangements whereby existing Leeds studio operator (Prime Studios) will operate and manage the studio.
Caddick has already 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.
The site is in a key location, between Kirkstall Road, the main Film and TV hub in the city and the South Bank, which is already home to over 500 creative and digital businesses. It is also just 15 minutes from the new C4 headquarters and the railway station, and would provide much needed space that the sector currently needs to support further growth driven by C4’s relocation.
The media and creative industries in Leeds are flourishing, with broadcaster Sky and sports streaming service DAZN already having a large presence in the city. Endemol Shine, the maker of Big Brother, production company trade body Pact, the BFI and UKTV have all announced offices or initiatives in Leeds and the plans for the old Polestar Petty printworks site will help meet this growing demand for space. Women in Film & Television have recently launched a Northern arm of the association in the city.
Outside of the Polestar Petty site, Caddick Group is delivering the £300m mixed-use SOYO neighbourhood, which is adjacent to Leeds Playhouse, Northern Ballet, Leeds College of Music and BBC studios.
SOYO will include 515 high quality homes built exclusively for rent by Caddick’s build-to-rent arm Moda Living, as well as a hotel, restaurants, bars and plenty of green public realm that will host outdoor activities throughout the year. Caddick is a contributor to Leeds’ first feminist sculpture, Ribbons, by Pippa Hale which will sit at the gateway to the new SOYO development
SOYO is a principle capital partner to Leeds Playhouse, supporting the pop-theatre during refurbishment works and providing on-going funding for community-based outreach activities, plus provides sponsorship of the area for the annual Light Night festival.
Caddick Group also owns Emerald Headingley rugby stadium, which the Group’s construction arm recently finished revamping.
Johnny Caddick, director at Caddick Group, said:
“From cities across the globe we can see how the creative industries are helping drive growth and so 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.
“Our SOYO neighbourhood will also help boost the established cultural offering at Quarry Hill by creating high quality public realm for all to enjoy, which will be used year-round for outdoor events, as well as by delivering high quality rental housing under our Moda Living brand and creating new retail, leisure and food and beverage opportunities.
“As one of the largest landowners in Leeds, we’re confident that by collaborating with the council and other key stakeholders we’ll help Leeds reach its full potential and will also soon be announcing our plans for the City One site.”