Holy­rood de­lays over Scot­land’s Hol­ly­wood plan

Sunday Herald - - 19.03.17 NEWS - BY JU­DITH DUFFY

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

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