Pinewood expansion plan rejected

$332 million plan attracted local objections

LONDON -- U.K. studio facility Pinewood's much-vaunted £200 million ($332 million) plan to expand the facility with permanent film sets, offices and homes on 110 acres has been rejected by the local planning authority.

South Bucks District Council said no thanks to Pinewood's extensive plans that included permanent set re-creations of San Francisco, New York's Tribeca neighborhood, New Orleans, Venice's Canale Grande as well as a Screen Craft Academy built in partnership with the National Film and Television School.

The council received a barrage of objections from local residents who figured the plans were as much to do with the building of 1,400 homes on site as to do with boosting the facility site and local economy.

South Bucks District Council planning committee chair Jacquetta Lowen-Cooper said that while she understood Pinewood's plea to make an exception and allow them to build on protected "greenbelt" land, it was too dangerous a precedent to set.

Lowen-Cooper said in a statement: "It is also important to stress that this decision should not be seen as anti-Pinewood. The Council fully recognizes the importance of Pinewood to the local and the wider economy and has been very supportive of the company over many years. We hope to be able to continue in that support of Pinewood's existing thriving site."

The Pinewood Studios Group is expected to appeal but only issued a terse statement on the decision.

Pinewood's group corporate affairs Director Andrew Smith said: "This project is of national significance and of great benefit not only to our community and region but also to the U.K. and its creative industries. We feel the benefits of skills, training, jobs, affordable homes and growth presented by this innovative project demonstrate the very special circumstances to develop land in the green belt. We remain committed to the vision of this project and to developing and sustaining U.K. creative industries at Pinewood for the future. We will now review the details of SBDC's decision."