Beds, Herts & Bucks

Pinewood Studio plans refusal 'hard to believe'

Aerial view of Pinewood Studios Image copyright Pinewood Studios
Image caption Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire wants to add studios, stages and streetscapes to its film studios

The rejection of a £200m expansion of Buckinghamshire's Pinewood Studios is "hard to believe" in the current economic climate, company bosses say.

The 15-year project for new studios, stages and streetscapes at the site in Iver Heath, was turned down by South Bucks District Council on Wednesday.

It ruled it was an "inappropriate" expansion into green belt land.

The management of the studios, used to film the latest James Bond instalment, Skyfall, are considering an appeal.

Pinewood, home to more than 1,500 movies over 76 years, were recently used to film Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus, as well as the Oscar-nominated hit Les Miserables.

The new facilities, designed to increase studio capacity by about 100,000 square metres, were described as a long-term scheme "designed to address increasing global demand for [film production] capacity in the UK".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig, was shot at the Buckinghamshire studio complex

Pinewood previously claimed if the plans were refused "significant harm" would be done to the UK economy.

'Studying decision'

Speaking after the decision, Pinewood chief executive, Ivan Dunleavy, said the council's decision was "disappointing".

"It is hard to believe, given the country's economic difficulties, that [the council] would turn down a £200m project creating 3,100 jobs in the vibrant and growing film and television sectors," he said.

"We will be studying the decision with our legal and planning team and expect to appeal the decision to the Secretary of State."

Last year, the government rejected a previous plan, which included more than 1,000 homes, saying it would be "inappropriate in the green belt".

The studios submitted its latest application in February this year, following "extensive public consultation".

But nearby parish councils have always opposed the plans as an expansion into green belt land.

Iver councillor Sylvie Lowe said residents "fully expected" an appeal and public inquiry, and they were "just as determined as last time" to continue to oppose the application.

"We are not against the expansion but believe it does not have to be conveniently across the road from [the existing studios]," she said.

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