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U.K. Studio Operator Pinewood Shepperton's Expansion Plans Blocked

Pinewood Studios Entrance 1 - H 2012

Hollywood studios had spoken out in favor of the added space outside of London for the home of the "James Bond" franchise.

U.K. film and TV studio facilities operator Pinewood Shepperton said late Wednesday that its application for an increase in studio capacity by about 100,000 square meters was refused at a meeting of the responsible district council planning committee.

The studio operator, known as the home of the James Bond franchise, has been trying to expand its space just outside of London for a while, citing demand for production space, but was again blocked on Wednesday in a six-to-four vote.

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"This is a disappointing decision by the local planning authority," said Ivan Dunleavy, CEO of Pinewood Shepperton. "It is hard to believe, given the country's economic difficulties, that [the district council] would turn down a $304 million (£200 million) project creating 3,100 jobs in the vibrant and growing film and television sectors."

He added: "The company remains committed to the Pinewood Studios Development Framework, and we will be studying the decision with our legal and planning team and expect to appeal the decision to the Secretary of State."

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On Feb. 1, following a negative opinion on its expansion plans and consultations with a slew of local and national stakeholders, as well as with producers and developers of content, Pinewood submitted a reworked proposal called the "Pinewood Studio Development Framework."

Four of Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox, urged authorities to approve the expansion, which would have added stages, workshops and production offices, among other things.
 
"The Pinewood Studios Development Framework is a long-term scheme of national significance designed to address increasing global demand for capacity in the U.K. and deliver growth for the next 15-20 years," the company said Wednesday. "Once complete, this would make a major contribution to achieving government priority objectives to grow the U.K.'s creative industries, promote growth and create new jobs."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai