Block­buster plan­ning de­ci­sion

Surrey Life - - The Insider’s Guide -

Sight­ings of Hol­ly­wood stars in Sur­rey may be­come a thing of the past if Shep­per­ton Stu­dios isn’t given the go ahead to ex­pand its site as part of a £500 mil­lion devel­op­ment on green belt land.

As this edi­tion of Sur­rey Life went to press, Spelthorne Bor­ough Coun­cil was due to de­bate pro­pos­als set out by the stu­dio in an out­line plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion. The plans in­clude the par­tial de­mo­li­tion of the ex­ist­ing stu­dios, the con­struc­tion of new stu­dio fa­cil­i­ties south of the River Ash cor­ri­dor, new car park­ing and a new ac­cess point off Shep­per­ton Road (B376).

The plans were de­vel­oped af­ter a pe­riod of con­sul­ta­tion with the lo­cal com­mu­nity at a se­ries of events and work­shops. As part of the re­vised plans, the stu­dio vowed to cre­ate new pedes­trian and cy­cle links and a se­ries of en­vi­ron­men­tal en­hance­ments. Speak­ing dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion stage, leader of Spelthorne Bor­ough Coun­cil, coun­cil­lor Ian Har­vey said: “Our Coun­cil has been a strong sup­porter of Shep­per­ton Stu­dios be­cause of its his­tor­i­cal, cul­tural, eco­nomic and em­ploy­ment sig­nif­i­cance in the bor­ough. We wel­come the fact that they are con­sult­ing widely at an early stage about their ex­pan­sion plans and we look for­ward to see­ing fur­ther de­tails.”

How­ever, lo­cal res­i­dents have voiced strong con­cerns over the pro­posed plans en­croach­ing onto green belt land as well as the po­ten­tial for air and noise pol­lu­tion.

The stu­dio has been based in Shep­per­ton since 1932 with over 1,000 movies filmed there, colelctively win­ning 126 BAFTAS and 81 Os­cars. The most re­cent large pro­duc­tions filmed at Shep­per­ton in­clude Beauty and the Beast, Mary Pop­pins Re­turns, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Christopher Robin.

Shep­per­ton Stu­dios says the pro­posed ex­pan­sion “is in di­rect re­sponse to the cur­rent losses of ma­jor (block­buster) in­ward in­vest­ment films to the UK be­cause of the short­age of stage space”. The stu­dio says the devel­op­ment would also ben­e­fit the lo­cal com­mu­nity through “em­ploy­ment, lo­cal ser­vice pro­vi­sion and train­ing and skills devel­op­ment”. The plans have re­ceived back­ing from Dis­ney, Net­flix and Lu­cas­film and Shep­per­ton says that with­out devel­op­ment the UK will lose out on ma­jor films be­ing made here and the stu­dio it­self may shut up shop.

If out­line per­mis­sion is granted, the stu­dio will still need to sub­mit de­tailed de­signs and, if ap­proved, it is ex­pectd new build­ings will be ready from 2021 on­wards in a phased devel­op­ment.

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