Shepperton film studios expansion backed by councillors

Artist's impression of the new Shepperton studios Image copyright Shepperton Studios
Image caption The Shepperton Studios expansion would triple the size of the site and double the developed area

A £500m expansion of world-renowned film studios has been agreed by councillors despite opposition over the impact it would have on the local area.

Opponents argued more than doubling the developed area of the 60-hectare (150-acre) Shepperton site would have a detrimental impact on the green belt.

However, Spelthorne borough councillors heard it would lead to more jobs and would boost the creative sector.

Shepperton Studios Ltd has produced Mamma Mia and Mary Poppins Returns.

The plans include building new studios, workshops and offices, together with space for creating purpose-built film sets.

Image copyright Universal
Image caption Cher made a cameo appearance as Sophie's grandmother in Mamma Mia

Shepperton Studios director Andrew M. Smith said: "The UK is currently missing out on a significant number of international films because of a shortage of sound stages.

"The increased capacity proposed at Shepperton Studios will meet head on the need for additional purpose built sound stages to accommodate blockbuster-size movies."

Shepperton, which is part of the Pinewood group, said the development would secure the future of more than 1,500 jobs and ultimately provide a £322m boost to the local economy.

Image copyright Shepperton Studios
Image caption The company says the redevelopment will secure existing jobs and create hundreds more

The council received more than 100 objections, including people with concerns over their impact on the green belt, traffic and nearby listed buildings, including the neighbouring Grade I-listed Church of St Mary Magdalene.

Council planning officers acknowledged the intrusion on the landscape but argued there was an economic case for such a big expansion.

The report said: "Careful consideration has been given to the government's conflicting aims of protecting the green belt and promoting sustainable economic growth, and it is concluded that the harm... is clearly outweighed by the national economic argument and the support for government policy aims."

The outline plan was approved by an extraordinary meeting of the planning committee on Tuesday, subject to a series of conditions and referral to the secretary of state for housing and local government.

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