Pinewood Shepperton Appeals Ruling Against Expansion Plans

Pinewood's planned expansion comes as demand for U.K. studio space continues to grow.
Pinewood's planned expansion comes as demand for U.K. studio space continues to grow.
 

Pinewood Shepperton has filed an appeal against a decision by local planning authorities that blocked the studio's plans to build new soundstages and service facilities outside London.

Earlier this month, in a 6-4 vote, the South Bucks District Council turned down Pinewood's application, which would have seen the studio, famous as the home of the James Bond films, increase its capacity by about 1 million square feet (100,000 square meters). The plan included the building of new studios and stages, workshops and production offices as well as streets capes and a core operational facilities.

In its appeal, which was expected, Pinewood called its expansion scheme "of national importance" in ensuring the U.K. can continue to meet increasing demand for studio space from Hollywood productions. Already, the expectation that both Avengers 2 and the next Star Wars film will shoot in England are leading many to suggest that the U.K.'s studio facilities are nearing full capacity.

Four of Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox, have urged authorities to approve the expansion.

"The need for Pinewood’s expansion is more pressing now than it has ever been and the Pinewood Board remains committed to the (expansion plan)," said Ivan Dunleavy, chief executive of Pinewood Shepperton. "The proposals have received overwhelming support from leading global figures and companies in the creative industries, business groups, national and local businesses and members of the local community. We expect a decision to be taken by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government by the end of the year.”

Pinewood argues that its expansion will create 3,100 new jobs and provide $294 million (£194 million) in infrastructure investment.

But local councils and not-in-my-backyard grassroots opposition have repeatedly stymied Pinewood's plans. The studio reworked its original expansion plans amid widespread criticism from local and national stakeholders as well as content producers. But on May 15, South Bucks District Council tossed that proposal, the Pinewood Studio Development Framework, out the window.

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