Caddick Group completes 110,000 sq ft media hub in Leeds city centre to support Channel 4’s arrival

Caddick Group, a family-run property development and construction business, has finished transforming an old six-acre printworks in central Leeds into a creative complex just 15 minutes from the Majestic, where Channel 4 will be opening its new headquarters.

Acquired by Caddick Group in October 2017, the site will now host 110,000 sq. ft. of studio space after extensive refurbishment, including the demolition of the Petty House office building and removal of abandoned plant machinery and asbestos. New landscaping and access points have been provided, along with charging points for electric vehicles. Local contractor CBM Construction carried out the refurbishment.

The history of the former printworks spans almost 150 years, starting in 1865 when Petty & Sons family printing company first opened its doors. In 1981 it was acquired by Robert Maxwell, who used it for his British Printing and Communications Corporation. The site subsequently changed hands a number of times before finally shutting for good in December 2014 with the loss of 250 jobs. A fire which broke out on 7 October 2016 destroyed the old Bindery building and the site was then abandoned.

Caddick has already secured Opera North as a tenant for a 9,000 sq ft. unit on the six-acre site which is being using for storage and rehearsals.

The remaining space will be occupied by studio operator Leeds Studios, who are subletting the property from Leeds City Council after a landmark deal with Caddick Group that saw the local authority take the head lease. Leeds Studios will now undertake internal fitouts of the six units they occupy, with the facility due to open in May 2020.

Leeds’ media scene is booming, and the city is the UK’s fastest growing, with the largest professional and financial services cluster outside of London and now an emerging creative cluster following Channel 4’s decision to relocate to the city.

Completion of refurbishment works at the Polestar Petty site follows the start on-site at New York Square. The official ground-breaking ceremony took place in the nearby Leeds Playhouse earlier this month and involved live performances from local artists and musicians.

Offering 515 apartments designed and built exclusively for rent, New York Square is the largest city centre residential project to begin construction in Leeds this year and will be developed and managed by Moda Living, Caddick Group’s rental housing brand. Sister company Caddick Construction is the main contractor.

The 515 homes mark the first phase of Caddick Groups’ SOYO neighbourhood, a £300m mixed-use development, in Leeds city centre right next to Leeds Playhouse, Northern Ballet, Leeds College of Music and BBC studios. In addition to the Moda Living apartments, SOYO will provide further residential, a hotel, restaurants, bars as well as new high-quality public realm and green space that will host outdoor activities throughout the year.

Caddick Group has a £5bn development pipeline spanning residential, industrial/logistics and mixed-use city centre regeneration projects.

Johnny Caddick, director at Caddick Group, said: “There is huge demand for studio space across the UK and in Leeds particularly thanks to the arrival of Channel 4. The broadcaster’s move will prove a massive boost to the city’s economy and Caddick Group is proud to be part of that growth story by transforming a derelict site into a world-class film and TV complex.”

Tony Bashforth from CBM Construction, said: “The refurbishment of the former Polestar Petty works has received a lot of interest locally, due to the connections many in Leeds have to the site. Our works have helped transform the old warehouses into a modern workspace for the 21st century, including new electric car charging points and upgraded services to power the studios. It’s great to have been involved in this project bringing the space back into employment use.”

Dawn Carlisle, partner in the commercial property team at Shulmans LLP, who represented Caddick Group on the granting of the lease, said: “We have a long-standing relationship with Caddick Group and, as two Leeds-based organisations, it has been a pleasure to have played a role in this significant cultural project, Channel 4 in Leeds, which will help to bring wider economic benefits to the region in 2020 and beyond.”