Match funding brings overall pot of cash to £12m

Elstree Studios 2 New Stages

Plans for two new stages at Elstree Studios have come a step closer to fruition after Hertsmere Borough Councillors agreed to approve £6m of match funding to build the new stages and ancillary facilities.

The stages (artist impression shown above) are similar in design to the huge ‘George Lucas’ studio building, and will be available for use separately or combined to form a supersize soundstage. Prior to lockdown, plans were in place to fund the project through private investors. However, the current economic crisis meant the council was forced to seek support elsewhere.

The agreement is subject to formal notification that £6m of government funding will be granted for the project via the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Hertsmere Borough Council believes the expansion of Elstree Studios will create at least 800 jobs per year over the next 50 years, as well as apprenticeship opportunities for local school leavers and the unemployed.

£100,000 per year of the project’s profits will be invested into the creative industries in Hertsmere, including local media and creative enterprises and initiatives.

Elstree Studios, which is owned by the council and managed by Elstree Film Studios Limited, said it is keen to expand after it had to turn away TV projects due to a lack of space, resulting in around £30m of ‘lost revenue’ over the past 18 months.

Leader of the council, Cllr Morris Bright, said: “The two new sound stages will provide much-needed and very welcome employment and training opportunities for local people. If realised, this project will come at a time when many of our residents are experiencing severe financial difficulties following the coronavirus pandemic.

“The studios currently contributes almost £1.6m in funding a year for local day-to-day services, such as parks, waste and recycling collection, community grants and street cleaning. Now more than ever, we need Elstree Studios to thrive and these new state-of-the-art studios will secure its future for generations to come.”

Roger Morris, managing director of Elstree Studios, added: “The new stages will provide Elstree Studios with almost 60% more capacity for productions ranging from feature films to high-end television and drama. We already have major production companies requesting to hire the new stages once they are built.

“The increase in capacity at Elstree Studios and the new Sky Studios Elstree will also mean more film and TV support companies locating in Hertsmere and more spend in the local economy. This can be considered the dawn of a new golden age for the television and film industry in Hertsmere.”