James Bond’s Pinewood Turned Down on $300 Million Plan
May 16 (Bloomberg) --- The owner of Pinewood Studios Ltd., where movies including James Bond’s “Skyfall” and “The Dark Knight” were filmed, was denied approval to develop new studios and stages at a campus about 20 miles west of London after an earlier plan was rejected last year.
Pinewood Shepperton Plc (PWS), Europe’s largest provider of stage and studio space, wants to develop 100,000 square meters (1.1 million square feet) of new space to allow increased film production at a site about 12 miles (19 kilometers) from Heathrow Airport. South Bucks district council members rejected provisional approval yesterday by six votes to four amid objections to development on land designated as farms or forest.
“To have allowed this development of over 110 acres in the green belt and Colne Valley Park, would not only have caused significant degradation to the local environment but also harmed the quality of life for local residents,” Ralph Bagge, the council’s planning committee chairman, said today in a statement.
The 200 million-pound ($300 million) project would generate spending of about 400 million pounds a year for the U.K. economy, according to a filing to the council. Pinewood, which has a 007 Stage built specifically for James Bond films, earns more than 70 percent of its income from movies, compared with 56 percent in 2007, the filing shows. Almost all of the James Bond movies, from the original “Dr. No” in 1962 to the latest “Skyfall” were shot at Pinewood.
Pinewood Shepperton will probably appeal the decision after receiving legal advice, Chief Executive Officer Ivan Dunleavy said yesterday.
“This is a disappointing decision by the local planning authority,” he said in a statement. “It is hard to believe, given the country’s economic difficulties,” that the council “would turn down a 200 million-pound project creating 3,100 jobs in the vibrant and growing film and television sectors.”
The British Film Commission, a lobbying group that tries to attract moviemakers to the U.K., said the decision was disappointing.
“We hope they can work to satisfy the objections of the planning committee,” Adrian Wootton, the group’s chief executive officer, said in a statement yesterday. An expansion “would provide real benefit by capitalizing on the success of the U.K. as a destination for major film and television production.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable wrote to Pinewood yesterday before the vote saying that the government was aware many studios and production facilities in the U.K. are close to capacity and future development is likely to be in the vicinity of existing operations.
A previous plan to expand the site, which included more than 1,000 homes, was rejected last year by the U.K. government on the grounds that it was inappropriate development in the green belt surrounding the city, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported. The decision upheld the South Buckinghamshire District Council, which turned down the project in 2009.
Pinewood Studios started in 1934 when building tycoon Charles Boot bought a Victorian manor house and estate there, aiming with his business partners to create a British rival to Hollywood, according to the filing. The new studios would include generic streetscapes from Amsterdam, Venice and New York’s Tribeca neighborhood, along with an English rural house and mill, Pinewood said in a separate filing to the council.
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