Pinewood Studios’ plans for a £200m expansion have been turned down after being labelled “inappropriate” by the local authority.
The plans would have seen studios, stages workshops, production offices and streetscapes for filming built across a 100,000 sq m area in a bid to deliver growth for the next 15-20 years, and a report to the council claimed the project would generate spending of around £400m a year for the UK economy.
But South Buckinghamshire District Council (SBDC) have turned down the plans and said it would be an “inappropriate” expansion into green belt land. The plan was defeated by 6 votes to 4.
The Council described Pinewood’s proposal as “one of the most contentious and difficult” it had had to deal with and claimed the proposal would “have caused significant degradation to the local environment and quality of life of local residents”.
Ivan Dunleavy, chief executive of Pinewood Shepperton, said the decision was “disappointing” but that it planned to appeal.
“It is hard to believe, given the country’s economic difficulties that SBDC would turn down a £200m project creating 3,100 jobs in the vibrant and growing film and television sectors,” said Dunleavy in a statement.
“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.”
There had been 254 letters of support for the plan in a report to the council, but parish councils objected to the plans with claims of a “harmful impact on the character of the area”.
Expansion plans were first dealt a blow in 2009 when the local council rejected a proposal to include more than 1,000 new homes as part of film sets on the 100-acre site next to the existing studios. A government inquiry backed that decision last year.
The housing element was removed when the plans were resubmitted.
But SBDC voted on Wednesday [May 15] to block the scheme by six votes to four.
The British Film Commission (BFC) later released a statement.
Adrian Wootton, chief executive of the BFC and Film London, said: “This is obviously disappointing news for Pinewood and we hope they can work to satisfy the objections of the planning committee.
“We believe an expansion of one of the country’s finest studio facilities would provide real benefit by capitalising on the success of the UK as a destination for major film and television production, a sector which has delivered billions of pounds worth of investment for the UK economy, and created thousands of jobs.”