EXCLUSIVE: The UK’s Shepperton Studios has submitted plans for a $640M (£500M) redevelopment and expansion of its production facilities in Surrey, England.

The planning application has been lodged with Spelthorne Borough Council seeking consent for the major private sector development project which is due to deliver an increase in stage space and facilities of around 465,000 square feet. Below are the first plans of the proposed site.

The $640M price tag is higher than previously reported estimates and the proposed growth would bring the studio up to the scale and standard of its neighboring sister facility Pinewood Studios, home to the James Bond franchise and a string of Marvel and Disney tentpoles.

If green-lit and financed, Shepperton could grow from its current 14 stages to at least double that number. Pinewood currently operates 22 stages and is due to get under way on the second phase of its own expansion in coming weeks.

Shepperton Studios

According to Shepperton executives, expansion will “secure the future of more than 1,500 direct jobs currently based in Spelthorne and maintain the current contribution to the local economy of £181M Gross Value Added (GVA). Over the construction period 837 jobs per year will be created, including potential for more than 200 jobs in the borough. On completion, Shepperton Studios is expected to boost productivity within the local economy to a total of £322M (GVA) and will create and sustain a total of 2,796 jobs.”

The studio expansion is being lined up for adjacent green belt land so questions could be raised at a local council level. The council is likely to reach a decision come the end of the year. If it’s a green light that decision would then be considered by Government.

With a history dating back to the early 20th Century, Shepperton has housed iconic movies including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator and Gravity. More recent productions include Mary Poppins Returns, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Beauty And The Beast and Avengers Age Of Ultron with Disney a frequent collaborator.

The UK Government is aiming to double the scale of film and high-end television production revenue to £4B by 2025. Extra production space will be key to achieving that and multiple new production facilities are planned across the country.

The Aermont Capital-owned Pinewood Group also has operations in Toronto, Malaysia, the Dominican Republic and Atlanta.

Andrew M. Smith, Director, Shepperton Studios said, “The UK is currently missing out on a significant number of international films because of a shortage of sound stages. The British Film Institute and British Film Commission have been calling for more stage space to reverse this trend and 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 Studios

Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive, British Film Commission and Film London, added, “Inward investment from the production of major feature film and high-end TV drama reached record levels in the UK in 2017. International feature films spent £1.69B in the UK – the highest figure since records began, and a 23% increase on 2016. However, the UK’s increased popularity as a filming destination means that a significant increase in studio capacity is now more essential than ever. Additional purpose-built studio space, together with an ongoing focus on skills development, is now crucial in order for us to continue to compete for major multi-million-dollar feature film and TV projects which have such a hugely positive impact on investment, employment, and tax revenue for both local economies and for UK plc.”