Below is the objection statement given by Cllr Sam Kershaw from Little Marlow Parish Council at the Bucks Strategic Sites Committee on 23rd October.
The studio bubble has peaked.
This development isn’t needed.
And its local and national economic benefits are negligible.
Over the last ten years, companies like Netflix and Amazon grew the streaming market by spending billions producing original TV content.
Britain’s film industry benefited hugely.
The spending on UK content doubled between 2016 and 2022. 70% of this spend came from streaming companies.
This created a huge demand for studio space.
Industry insiders anticipated the demand.
They expanded existing studios such as Pinewood, Shepperton and Leavesden. And built new ones such as Wycombe Film Studios.
Then property developers got in on the action.
So much so that planning consents for film studios increased by 45% in the last five years
It became a gold rush.
In the background, the streaming market continued its rapid growth.
Many new services were launched.
And content budgets increased by over 25% per year. All funded by cheap money.
Everyone was wildly optimistic even though they were making huge losses.
A classic tech bubble.
This year, it began to burst.
The market is now reaching saturation, revenue growth is stalling and the cost of debt has rocketed.
After all, there is only so much money that people will spend on TV and film.
Streaming companies are now prioritising profitability over growth.
So their production budgets are being slashed.
Disney recently reduced its by 5.5 billion
This isn’t a blip caused by Hollywood strikes – this is the industry maturing and adapting.
Consequently, the demand for UK studio space has been significantly impacted.
Knight-Frank recently reported there is now enough to meet foreseeable demand.
Expansions of established studios such as Sunset in Hertfordshire are already being scaled back or cancelled.
And the outlook for new studios is looking very bleak.
Particularly those that don’t yet exist
Especially the large ones
The days of “build it and they will come” are over.
Marlow Film Studio is late to the party. The champagne has gone flat and the dancing partners have all been taken.
Bucks’ economic consultants, LSH, have already cast doubt on their forecasts for studio demand.
Now, they are so out of date they are clearly implausible.
The applicant’s economic case for the studio’s benefits depends on these forecasts.
Estimates for Employment, GVA and Tax Contributions are all based on occupancy rates.
The justification for these estimates was already weak and lacked any consideration of risks or dependencies.
Recent developments have made them even more open to doubt.
Would you invest your own money in this development?
And Buckinghamshire shouldn’t allow its valuable greenbelt to be invested either.
The benefits are doubtful and the harm is certain.
Therefore, I strongly recommend refusal.