U.K.'s Pinewood Shepperton Gets Approval for $340 Million Expansion

UPDATED: The production home of "Star Wars: Episode VII" and the James Bond franchise has been pushing for added capacity with support of studios.

LONDON – U.K. studio operator Pinewood Shepperton on Thursday received government approval for its long-delayed expansion plans worth $340 million (200 million pounds).

The production home of Star Wars: Episode VII and the James Bond franchise has been pushing for added capacity with support of studios, arguing that the U.K. has had to turn productions away due to current capacity limits.

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The studio, located just outside of London, has said it plans to build another 10 stages and create 3,100 new jobs. The plan includes doubling the existing Pinewood Studios by adding a total of 100,000 square meters of new facilities, including studios and stages, workshops and production offices.

Eric Pickles, Britain's Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, decided in favor of what is known as the "Pinewood Studios Development Framework."

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Said CEO Ivan Dunleavy: "Our project builds on the success of the government's policy for the creative industries and addresses the shortage of stage space in the U.K. As a result of today's green light from the Secretary of State, thousands of much needed new jobs will be created in this growing sector of the economy. We want to begin construction as soon as possible. I'd like to thank colleagues both within and outside the industry, for the tremendous support they have given the project."

The company said the decision would "secure the future growth of Pinewood Studios, which will address the clear need for additional capacity in the U.K."

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Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox, previously urged U.K. government authorities to approve the expansion, which has been repeatedly blocked in recent years. In May 2013, the company  appealed the latest decision against the expansion, calling its plans "of national importance" in ensuring the U.K. can continue to meet increasing demand for studio space from Hollywood productions. 

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai