This will have a devastating effect on all of us.
The studio will dominate the landscape and be an eyesore for miles around.
Film studios look like large industrial complexes and are not at all glamorous. Huge warehouse-style sound stages, office blocks and cranes will sprawl across our open green countryside and tower over the Marlow Road.
The studio will be visible from Marlow, Bourne End and Flackwell Heath and will ruin the views from Winter Hill, Bloom Wood and the Chilterns AONB.
Make no mistake, the charm, character and wealth of Marlow and its surrounding villages will be permanently damaged by this development.
It’s going to be all about cars not stars. Two thousand people will work there every day and our research shows that 60% of them will travel to and from London at peak commute times increasing local traffic by almost 20%.
All the cars and lorries will pass through a single gated entrance opposite Hillier Garden Centre where new traffic lights will create long queues in both directions.
Imagine the congestion that this will cause on the A404 and the roads of Marlow and Bourne End. Imagine what it will be like commuting to work or driving your kids to school – an absolute nightmare.
Dido claims a third of studio workers will use public transport and take shuttle buses from Handy Cross and Maidenhead. We don’t buy this. Public transport is rarely used at other studios because the workers aren’t willing to suffer the inevitable inconvenience.
Anyway, the site only has 750 parking spaces so where are the 500+ other cars going to go? If it’s anything like Pinewood or Shepperton they will be parked in local streets along with the HGVs used to transport materials to site.
There is nothing Dido can do to reduce the impact of such a large increase in traffic and it will inevitably damage our quality of life.
Cars cause pollution and more cars cause more pollution.
Marlow already has such high levels of Nitrogen Dioxide that it has been declared an AQMA. Not only is this a major risk to public health, it is a leading cause of childhood asthma.
The inevitable congestion caused by studio traffic will increase pollution and make this even worse.
The site may not look like much but a wealth of wildlife relies on the ecological benefits provided there. It’s a place where barn owls nest, badgers forage and wild orchids grow in abundance. It’s also a natural corridor for animals and a nationally important area for migratory birds. The studio will destroy all this.
Dido claims that they will increase biodiversity by 20% but it’s impossible to achieve that within the development. We suspect that they will spend money elsewhere in the county to hit their target.
The Film Studio will be built on the floodplain and concreting over this area will mean that surface water will need to go elsewhere.
Marlow has experienced extensive flooding and our groundwater levels are rising each year. Buckinghamshire council has spent almost £10 million on the problem but more work is required. The “Newt Ditch” alleviation scheme planned for East Marlow could be in jeopardy due to the studio.
We are examining this issue carefully because increased flood risk will inevitably lead to higher house insurance premiums and could also reduce property prices.
Thousands of jobs for Buckinghamshire?
The developers chose Marlow because it is convenient for the film production professionals who live in London. These contractors travel to wherever there’s work so it isn’t about creating new jobs, it’s about creating a new place for existing jobs.
Film production depends on people with specialist skills and even the hospitality, maintenance and cleaning jobs are typically contracted out. Unless you’re already in the film industry there will be very little opportunity to work there.
Film Studios are self-contained places where catering, recreation and support services are provided on-site. Workers rarely use local shops, pubs and restaurants because they simply don’t have the time. You won’t see Tom Cruise popping into The Ship for a swift half.
Local tradespeople won’t gain much benefit because the film industry relies on specialist firms. The main increase in business will be at local service stations where longer queues will cause disruption.
Our youth won’t benefit either. Dido doesn’t produce films, it simply leases studio space, so they aren’t able to promise any training or work experience. They haven’t even planned any education or training facilities on-site.
There is no doubt that Britain has a thriving film production industry which makes a significant contribution to the national economy. However, there will be little benefit to the people of Marlow.
Who do you trust?
Dido Properties Ltd is owned by four wealthy property developers from Oxfordshire. None of them has any experience in building or operating a studio. We suspect that they will simply sell the land if permission is granted. Therefore, we are highly sceptical about their plans and commitments.
Buckinghamshire Council doesn’t have a great track record in enforcing developer’s commitments. For example, they never enforced the commitment to improve footpaths when the running track was built. They also failed to ensure that the Star Wars set was returned to its original state and didn’t fulfill a promise to spend its lease income on improving Spade Oak Nature Reserve.
The studio will be on greenbelt land that is designated as a Country Park where this type of development is strictly prohibited. Therefore, the planning application should inevitably be refused. But we don’t trust that this will happen unless we make our voices heard to ensure that the Council acts in the interest of the people it serves.
The studio will harm our countryside, our town and our quality of life. The only people that will benefit are the directors of Dido Properties Ltd.
If you share our concerns then join us in fighting this terrible plan.