Our Country Park’s public nature record

Thank you to everyone who has already participated and recorded their observations of wildlife in the Marlow Little Lakes Country Park. We have already collected over 400 observations and 216 different species: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/little-marlow-lakes-country-park

Recent observations include Tawny Owl, a Glow-worm and Pyramidal Orchid. Please keep them coming!

Investment in film industry ≠ approval to build on Greenbelt

The UK government recently announced plans to support more regional creative cluster with up to £50 million in funding. Buckinghamshire Council expressed its enthusiasm, based on the existing Pinewood Studios in Iver and the approved Wycombe Film Studios.

Obviously, Guernsey-registered Dido Property Limited was quick to grasp the opportunity as a sign of approval for their megalomaniac plans to build on Marlow’s Greenbelt.

An investment in the creative industries across the United Kingdom does not mean it should be at the expense of Greenbelt. Existing film studios can be expanded or brownfield sites can be used. A great example of this, is Cube Studio in Holyport, created in an existing unit which has been re-purposed into a commercial studio. Greenbelt is needed by the local community to enjoy nature and to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

All large film studios have a big name locked in, except…

All large-scale, major film studios in the UK have forged strong links or secured leases with renowned film production companies. Here are some examples:

What about Marlow Film Studio (659,268 sq ft, as per its planning application)? Literally no-one.

It confirms the analysis by industry experts, commissioned by Buckinghamshire Council, which questions the economic case for the application of such a large complex. It is not needed and definitely not on Greenbelt. You can still object today.

Film studios and the active travel pipe dream

Pinewood Studios have submitted yet another planning application amendment as part of their expansion plans. This time, it is for a 5-storey car park, according to the Bucks Free Press. There will be 1,252 new car parking spaces, 10 motorcycle spaces and 15 covered cycle parking spaces. Even if the latter accommodate multiple bikes, the numbers clearly show how Pinewood expects the vast majority of staff and contractors to commute. Just like they would to any film studio.

Marlow Film Studios – The Truth about Traffic

National Highways has once again called out Dido Property Limited for failing to provide an analysis of the impact that 4,000 extra cars will have on the A404 and Westhorpe Roundabout. They recommend that planning permission shouldn’t be granted until DPL and their contractors have supplied them with the proper modelling data.

In an objection provided by Transition Town Marlow’s Cycling & Walking group, they point out major deficiencies for active travel with the new roundabout access scheme on the A4155. The proposal is not compliant with the government’s design guidelines for cycling – no apparent attempt has been made to make the A4155 cycle-friendly or facilitate crossing it and it does not address the issues for active travel on the Westhorpe roundabout. This won’t be conducive to getting more people to leave their cars behind, supporting SMG’s statement that 80-90% of film studio workers will drive.

What’s more, analysis commissioned by SMG has shown that MFS has created some very dubious assumptions about the traffic in order to downplay the level of congestion.

But, of course, the Directors of Guernsey-registered Dido Property Limited do not live round here so they won’t be impacted by the delays, the jams, and the risks to health and safety that we will all inevitably suffer.

Magic money tree of film studios takes a hit

After an adjustment to their rateable values, many UK film studios are facing a significantly higher tax bill. Industry lobbying continues, but surely the sums for the Marlow Film Studio proposal (and Guernsey-registered Dido Property Limited) are looking a lot less rosy right now, with a reduced demand by the time the warehouses are built and a higher tax bill…

Marlow Film Studios – does it hold water?

We are all aware that every winter the area around the studio site has flooding problems and that climate change will only make this worse. Here is a picture taken on 22nd April 2023 from the “flexible backlot” (typically indicated as “Plot 5”) that will be converted to hard standing:

Buckinghamshire Council’s own flooding experts, the LLFA, know about this and have now officially cast severe doubts over the viability of the development in their latest report.

They have identified groundwater flood risks, and issues with surface water drainage and questioned the accuracy of the analysis supplied by Guernsey-based Dido Property Limited and their contractors. They only provided data for December to January 2022, and did not include the required hydraulic modelling or any calculations supporting the surface water drainage scheme.

If the Directors of DPL were serious about building and running a film studio on this site you’d think they would make sure it would not end up underwater.

Thank you & donation target

Thank you to all who attended our first AGM on Tuesday 18th April. The attendees will have heard about the level of funding that will be required if the film studio planning application goes to a public enquiry. We estimate that at least £40,000-£50,000 will be needed in addition to the funds raised to date.

Therefore, despite the ever-increasing cost of living, if you can find some spare cash and would like to invest that in protecting our greenbelt, please could you make a further donation. Our JustGiving target is now £50,000. We thank you for your continued support.

How we have spent funds so far

Since we started Save Marlow’s Greenbelt over 18 months ago we have been overwhelmed with the support to our community cause. A growing committee continue to meet regularly to discuss the local threats to our Greenbelt. We have run many events such as cakes sales, walking events and an online auction to raise funds to support our cause.

There have been multiple planning applications that have been submitted for inappropriate development on our Greenbelt. Several have gone quiet but the main threat, the Marlow Film Studio, continues.

We have raised over £19,000 which has helped us continue to protect our Greenbelt and reach out to our community. Some of these funds have been spent as follows:

  • flyers, banners and communication aides
  • engaging consultants to help support objections

We wanted to thank everyone for their support. This has come through monetary donations, volunteering at events, sharing our social media posts and much more. We cannot continue to grow without your support and for that we are grateful.

As we see more detail coming in from MFS application, more resources are required to protect our cause. We cannot do this on our own. We do not have the skills or the experience required in each area of expertise. The way forward now is to continue to engage specialists to help support us.

Thank you everyone for your support so far. Please continue to donate if you can.

Join our AGM on 18/4

We are pleased to announce that our first Annual General Meeting will be held on Tuesday 18th April 7.30pm at The Pavilion, Church Road, Little Marlow, Marlow SL7 3RS. Parking will be available at the venue.

We are looking forward to meeting you and discussing what we have achieved so far and our plans going forward for Save Marlow’s Greenbelt.

Please bring along your friends and neighbours as we welcome all supporters for our cause. 

We look forward to seeing you there.

Richard Sherwin, David Porter, Oyku Tevfik, Sam Kershaw