U.K. Studios Fund to Invest in $290 Million Complex Outside London

Credit: The Creative District Improvement Company
The proposed U.K. studio in Ashford, Kent

With the U.K.'s film and TV production in lockdown amid the new coronavirus epidemic, a major new studio facility is hoping to be up and running by the time it kickstarts again.

Amid the ongoing crisis related to the new coronavirus that has shut down most film and TV production across the U.K., a proposed new studio facility aimed at capitalizing on the recent British production boom is set to receive 250 million pounds ($290 million) of funding.  

Newly launched U.K. studios investment fund the Creative District Improvement Company, set up by real estate developer Piers Read, producer of hit Brit comedies The Inbetweeners and Peep Show, and Jeremy Rainbird, who helped launch Sharon Horgan's label Merman, has teamed with property developer Quinn Estates on the new site in the British county of Kent. 

To be built on a derelict former locomotive factory in Ashford, south east of London, the proposed development — should it get approval from local authorities — would include four TV and film studios over more than 22,000 square meters, creating in excess of 3,000 jobs, claim the developers, and making it the largest TV and film studio new build outside London. Eyeing increased production demand from U.S. streaming giants, the developers have pointed to Ashford's Eurostar train stop, which connects to Amsterdam, where Netflix has its European hub. 

Despite the crisis due to the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, the project is scheduled for 2021.

“It is a dream come true to regenerate an area that we have a close personal connection to and to provide such exciting employment opportunities," said Read and Rainbird. "As we emerge from COVID-19 there will continue to be unprecedented demands for stage space and a demand for skilled workers which will continue to grow. With AI constantly encroaching into the U.K. employment sector, the creative industry is one of the only industries that robustly defends itself from mass unemployment. British TV and film making is the best in the world thanks to facilities like Ashford International Studios. This is set to remain the case for decades to come."

Earlier this month, the Creative District Improvement Company unveiled a $640 million investment war chest, announced a $50 million acquisition and extension of Twickenham Studios, the historic London facility that last year landed an Oscar for its sound work on Bohemian Rhapsody and recently earned a BAFTA for mixing Sam Mendes' World War I epic 1917.