A year after its Project Pinewood development was rejected by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Pinewood Studios has submitted a new planning application for an expansion project valued at £200M ($317M). The Pinewood Studios Development Framework proposal is expected to be spread over 15 years and would essentially double the studio in size with 100,000 square meters of new studios, stages, workshops and production offices along with new streetscapes for external filming and other improvements. Pinewood’s Mark Hamilton tells me, “The UK has capacity issues and everyone is having difficulty fitting in everything that wants to come here… We don’t want to be in a position where we’re turning business away.” Hamilton says a team from Pinewood met and with physical production folk at the U.S. majors to discuss their needs which helped to inform the new proposal. In the past year, Pinewood has played host to such films as Les Misérables, Skyfall, Disney’s Maleficent and Paramount’s Jack Ryan, which just wrapped. Currently on the lot is Disney’s Muppets sequel.
Project Pinewood was kiboshed last year based in part on the fact that the studio had envisioned building housing on a vast portion of land that it owns, but which is also in a protected greenbelt area. The new plan would develop the same land, but has removed the accomodation aspect which Pinewood believes will help push it through. Hamilton says, “It’s not a living and working community anymore, it’s an extension of the studios and the demand is there, there is no question.” There is also a tax break coming into effect in April for high-end TV productions which is anticipated to drive up demand for shooting space even further and Hamilton says Pinewood believes the expansion proposal this time around “meets government policy that wants to champion the creative industries.” The new plan is supported by such industry figures as Danny Boyle, Ridley Scott and Working Title’s Eric Fellner.