Is Marlow Film Studio Actually Needed?

The landscape for the UK Film and High End TV production business is shifting and the demand for studio space is weakening. It seems that Marlow Film Studio isn’t actually needed.

You’ve probably noticed how there are fewer new series available on the streaming platforms these days and that episodes are being eked out over weeks rather than being dropped all at once. What’s more, Netflix has stamped down on password sharing is planning to run adverts.

All this is a sign that the streaming media giants have turned their focus to profitability and that the decade-long growth in spending on High End TV content is coming to an end. This growth accounted for the rapid expansion of the UK production industry so these changes will have a major impact on studio owners whose facilities are used for both feature films and HETV. Particularly as HETV contributed nearly 70% of production spend in 2022.

Consequently, some studios are putting their plans for expansion on ice. The big ones like Pinewood, are so well established that they will survive the downturn. But the prospects for new ones with no client contracts, like Marlow Film Studio, are looking extremely dicey.

A highly critical report commissioned by Bucks Council has already raised serious doubts over the need to build a film studio of this size in Marlow. A recent report by estate agents Knight Frank confirms that there is now enough studio space and no new builds are needed.

This is made clear in the forward to the report by analyst Freddie Owen

The demand profile in the industry is shifting, however. The major streaming platforms have, for the most part and time being at least, satisfied their requirements in terms of studio space.

There aren’t any other platforms that require large scale (500,000+ sq ft) dedicated facilities.

UK Film and Television Studios Market – 2023

This isn’t a temporary issue caused by the strikes in Hollywood – this is a major change in the HETV business model and reinforces our belief that there is simply no economic justification for Marlow Film Studio.

So, why do they want to go ahead if they are so late to the party? Well, they’re property developers, not studios bosses, so maybe they don’t understand how the business is changing.

But if they get planning permission there will be “change of use” on the land which will significantly increase its value by making it easier to obtain approval for alternative developments.

So maybe that’s what they’re up to – cook up a plan for a film studio, get planning permission and then sell on the land for a tidy profit, so it can be used for something else. Who knows what that could be. It certainly won’t be affordable housing because the land isn’t suitable and there is already plenty of empty office space in Globe Park – maybe it will become an Amazon warehouse or a breaker yard …

We want the land to be developed into a Country Park to protect nature and become a place where people can enjoy the countryside – it’s in the greenbelt after all. This was the plan put forward by Wycombe District Council but, after they were integrated into Buckinghamshire Unitary Council, it was cancelled and the land was conveniently removed from the Country Park.

If you don’t think the studio should be built then please click to object.