Holyrood delays over Scotland’s Hollywood plan
THE developers behind a £200 million plan to build an international film studio complex for Scotland have urged the Scottish Government to tell them when a decision on the project will be made.
The planning application for the privately backed Pentland studio development, with six sound stages and a water stage, at Straiton outside Edinburgh, was “called in” by ministers last year, after a decision was delayed by Midlothian Council. A report on the planning reporter’s recommendations was received by ministers on December 22.
Now, in a letter to the Scottish Government, the developer PLS Land, says Wednesday will be the final day to remain within a target time frame of under three months for a determination to be made – and notes the proposal has been going through the formal planning process since September 2014.
It states: “While appreciative that the nature of his proposal… requires detailed consideration of the merits of the development, the appellant is concerned there are no statutory timescales, or indeed a formal determination date, in which ministers will be obliged to have issued their decision.”
The letter goes on to state: “The proposed development will deliver the first purpose-built film studio in Scotland, which has been recognised by the Association of Film and Television Producers Scotland as being integral to the future of the film industry of Scotland.
“Through the delivery of this studio, a Film Academy will emerge with associated student accommodation to educate the next generation of the film industry within Scotland, thus enhancing the country’s reputation as being at the forefront of the industry worldwide.”
It concluded by saying PSL Land would be grateful if ministers could “provide an indicative timeframe for the determination of the ongoing appeal”.
There have long been calls for a dedicated film studio north of the Border, with fears the industry is missing out on a boom in filming.
Scotland is the only nation in the UK which does not have its own studio. Despite this it has attracted a number of major productions in recent years such as World War Z, Skyfall, the Harry Potter series, The Fast and the Furious and the hit TV series Outlander, filmed at Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld.
The latest is the new Avengers blockbuster, Infinity War, with filming taking place at various locations in Edinburgh over the next few weeks and the Wardpark Studios also used for the production.
While there are moves to expand Wardpark, the Pentland project is the biggest film studio plan currently proposed for Scotland. However it has been opposed by the farmer who lives and works on the land proposed for the site and other local residents.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is considering a planning application and every effort is being made to issue the decision as soon as possible. Government officials only received the reporter’s submission on the Pentlands proposal at the end of December.
“This is a highly complex planning application for a mixed-use development of which a film studio is only one part, and ministers are giving full and proper consideration to it. There are many factors to consider that can affect timelines and it would be misleading to suggest an indicative date for decision.”
Outlander, left, and World War Z, right, are two of the high-profile productions that have been filmed in Scotland, despite the lack of a studio