Plans to build a giant film studio in Marlow’s Green Belt have been dealt a severe blow following the publication of an economic analysis commissioned by Buckinghamshire Council.
Property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton have cast serious doubt on claims by Marlow Film Studios that the proposed site is the only viable location and that refusal of the plan would have a negative effect on the future of the UK film and High-End Television (HETV) industry.
The 20-page report “struggles” with the proposal’s argument that the studio’s success is dependent upon its proximity to a “Critical Mass” of film production professionals from the “West London Cluster” (WLC). It slams the applicant’s claim that “the WLC is the only place in the UK that can attract major HETV” as “fundamentally untrue” and states that “there is now precedent and acceptance amongst the production fraternity that other locations now present viable and cost effective options with both the infrastructure and the degree of established crew to facilitate production”. Numerous examples are provided to back this up including “Game of Thrones” which was based in Belfast.
This is a major setback for Marlow Film Studios because it undermines the “sequential analysis” used to justify building on the Green Belt in Little Marlow.
The LSH report also points out that the Marlow Film Studios case rests on an assumption that there will be a significant gap between the growing demand for studio space and the amount under development.
The report says
We consider the submission’s development pipeline estimates to materially understate the potential sites under consideration …. we consider the combination of sites recently delivered, sites with planning consent or expansion to existing facilities if all built out to be sufficient to address the majority of unmet demand
Richard Sherwin, Chairman of Save Marlow’s Greenbelt, which opposes the studio plan says:
This report supports our belief that these property developers don’t understand the film industry and that they only selected Little Marlow because Green Belt land offers bigger profits. The studio will offer insignificant benefits and it is now clear that it could be successfully built elsewhere without the devastating impact on our town, our environment and our roads. Bucks Council must refuse the application.