Plans for the ‘UK’s largest’ film studios complex in north London have been submitted to Hertsmere Borough Council, as the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the British Film Commission (BFC) urge local officials to support the scheme
Bidwells will see the delivery of 1 million sq ft of film studio space, supporting workshops, offices with an additional 600,000 sq ft of commercial space for supporting businesses, and a hotel.
An education facility that will operate alongside Elstree Screen Arts Academy – helping train up local people to become the UK’s next generation of film industry professionals will also be built.
In a letter to the local council, the DIT has also said that any options to increase capacity, complementing existing stage space and the new Sky Studios development, “would be warmly welcomed, not at least as Hertsmere has such as a rich heritage for Film and HETV production”.
Plans for the new complex, which if granted planning permission will be larger than the infamous Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, have been submitted for inclusion in Hertsmere Borough Council’s new Local Plan.
Building work could start in 2023 with completion in 2025.
Hertswood Studios, which will sit adjacent to a 30-acre Legal & General-backed Sky Studio development (on which work has commenced) will form part of the UK’s first film industry cluster and provides investors with a huge opportunity to tap into Britain’s rapidly growing film, TV and creative industries – which contribute more to the UK economy each year than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences and oil and gas industries combined, according to the BFC.
The UK Government has recognised that film and TV studios are a unique economic and cultural proposition, highlighting “the impact that creative anchor institutes can have on pride and economic performance in an area”, and citing film and TV studios as an example of how creative businesses and local investment increase employment and share spill-over benefits across the area and the supply chain.
In the Spring 2020 Budget, the chancellor Rishi Sunak allocated £4.8m to expand the work of the BFC to promote the UK as a destination of choice for studio space investment.
The BFC will act as a single source of expert advice for investors and developers and provide targeted support at the early stages of viable projects to facilitate increased provision of studio facilities across the UK.
Providing ‘grade-A purpose-built space in the most prime location’
Iain Keys, partner in fund management at Bidwells, said: “London is a city synonymous with characters such as James Bond, Autin Powers, Sherlock Holmes, Oliver Twist and Bridget Jones, and franchises such as Star Wars, The Crown, Kingsman and Mission: Impossible.
“This didn’t come about by accident. Our city’s success is thanks to a near-alchemical mix of locations, facilities and technical expertise, all of which are underpinned by generous and reliable tax reliefs.
“However, huge supply and demand mismatches threaten to dethrone the UK as one of the UK’s leading production hubs.
“In addition, with approximately three-quarters of the UK’s film industry based in and around London, investors and companies will benefit from a location that is part of the UK’s biggest film and TV cluster – making it easy to attract and retain talent.
“Looking ahead, we plan on working closely with the forward-thinking Hertsmere Borough Council to deliver this scheme and progress with consulting the local communities that reside in the area and build on the incredibly rich film heritage of Elstree.”
Adrian Wootton OBE, CEO at British Film Commission (BFC), added: “With the renewed demand for content, the need for additional Studios and appropriate stage space has never been greater…
“Together with colleagues at the Department for International Trade (DIT), Bidwells have outlined their ambition to the BFC and our understanding is that they intend to submit an application, timed to coincide with Hertsmere’s new Local Plan.”