UK’s Dagenham Film & TV Studios Progressing With New Bidder Despite Brexit Disruption

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham council

A major film and TV studio development in London, Dagenham East, is progressing despite the recent news that the initial preferred partner to build the facility had paused its plans, citing uncertainty over Brexit.

U.S. entertainment real estate outfit Pacifica Ventures, which was named the partner back in March 2018, let its exclusive option to develop the site lapse last month, saying it had been forced to put the plans on hold as the UK’s exit from the European Union had failed to progress towards a conclusion.

At the time, Pacifica released a statement claiming that it had “not dropped out” of the project but was giving its blessing to Dagenham council to progress with a third party “to move forward more quickly”.

Now, that third party has stepped forward in the form of The Creative District Improvement Company (TCDI Co), the UK-based developer that says it is backed by “one of the largest institutional property investment funds in the world”.

TCDI was an initial bidder for the project and confirmed to us today that its offer is still on the table, and it is now waiting for the council to give the green light to proceed.

The company said its bid, which carries a value of $231m (£179m), has support from Millennium Media and Netflix.

Netflix confirmed to us that it was a general supporter of the UK having more studio space and, while it has not made any further commitments following its long-term deal with Shepperton Studios to become its de-facto UK production hub, the company is continuing to assess all future options.

TCDI Co is also working on a separate studio development in Ashford, Kent, that the streamer has previously been linked with.

Piers Read, a partner at TCDI, told us that Brexit was “just an excuse” for the Dagenham development not progressing previously.

“The fact is, everyone knew about Brexit before the bid process began in 2018, two years after the referendum happened. Brexit uncertainty is unhelpful but is just an excuse. The demand [for studio space in the UK] is not being affected. If we can make a film studio project work in Kent, then Dagenham can definitely work,” Read commented.

Representatives at Be First, the company that is managing the Dagenham development, were keen to stress that the project had always been planned to continue despite the Pacifica disruption. They will now be progressing through the planning permission process before the council makes a decision on whether it can go forward.

Pat Hayes, Managing Director for Be First, told us in a statement: “We are currently taking an application for the Dagenham studios through the planning system and we will be submitting it in the New Year. At this point the Council will decide whether to build the studios out itself or to select a development partner to take the project to the next stage.”

“Though the initial preferred bidder Pacifica decided not to proceed with the project, due in part to their concerns about the UK leaving the EU, Be First, the Council’s development company, was able to carry forward the process that Pacifica would have been undertaking, so no time has been lost.”

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