Pinewood’s £200m expansion writes script for thousands of film jobs

More than 8,000 existing full-time jobs at Pinewood Studios will be secured and another 3,100 are promised over the next 15 years as the Buckinghamshire site doubles in size after winning a planning appeal.

Fri, 19 Jun 2014

More than 8,000 existing full-time jobs at Pinewood Studios will be secured and another 3,100 are promised over the next 15 years as the Buckinghamshire site doubles in size after winning a planning appeal.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles gave the film and television studio site the go-ahead on economic grounds after South Bucks District Council rejected the £200m expansion plan at Iver Heath as ‘inappropriate’ for the green belt around London.

Pinewood, where Star Wars Episode VII is currently in production, has made more than 1,500 films over 76 years including the most recent James Bond movie, Skyfall.

Studio chiefs argued that international demand is growing from producers who need more space than the existing 37-hectare site to make feature films. In the Pinewood Studios development framework, they set out the case for expansion on to adjacent open land of about 45 hectares in the green belt.

Twelve new stages, streetscapes, workshops and offices will help Pinewood deliver £400m a year to the UK economy, £150m of it from the expansion. Building will take place in three phases of five years each from 2015.

Claiming there was no credible or viable alternative to help the UK film and television industry expand, Pinewood held out the promise of significant opportunities for education, training and apprenticeships.

Ivan Dunleavy, chief executive of Pinewood Shepperton, said the project addressed the shortage of stage space in the UK and built on the success of the government’s policy for the creative industries.

“As a result of today’s green light from the secretary of state, thousands of much needed new jobs will be created in this growing sector of the economy,” he added. “We want to begin construction as soon as possible.”

The local council signalled its disappointment but also its acceptance that the fight was over in a statement by Councillor Roger Reed, cabinet member for sustainable development. He said: "We had extensive and well informed objections from the district council, parish councils and others to the scheme, but we must now look forward and recognise the importance of Pinewood and the benefit they can bring to the local and wider economy."

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