Blockbuster planning decision
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.