Planning permission has been granted to another major studio development in the UK — this time in the Kent town of Ashford from investment vehicle The Creative District Improvement Company and developer Quinn Estates.
Ashford International Film Studios is a £250M ($308M) redevelopment of Kent’s derelict Newtown Railway Works and the scheme was approved by Ashford Borough Council councilors during a virtual meeting on Wednesday.
The Creative District Improvement Company plans to open the studios in early 2022 and the firm claimed it is the biggest single investment in a UK studio, and that Netflix and Amazon have already indicated their interest in using the space.
Newtown Works, once a locomotive manufacturing company, will be transformed into 240,000 sqft of TV and film production space, as well as a media center, education space and hotel. It aims to create 2,000 jobs.
The project’s backers hope that the studio’s proximity to Ashford’s Eurostar stop will encourage European productions to take advantage of the space, as well as providing a link to Netflix’s European hub in Amsterdam.
Ashford International Film Studios is part of a wave of investment in UK studio space. Sky is developing a major hub in Elstree with the backing of parent company Comcast, while Netflix is planning to open a 14-stage production facility at Pinewood’s Shepperton Studios. Disney has also struck a long-term agreement with Pinewood Studios.
The Creative District Improvement Company has already committed to investing £50M into expanding Twickenham Studios, while it is also involved in a proposed facility in East London’s Dagenham.
Commenting on Ashford International Film Studios, The Creative District Improvement Company founders Piers Read and Jeremy Rainbird said: “Amidst this current global pandemic, it is extremely exciting to be given the go-ahead by the council to start work on what will become one of the UK’s biggest creative hubs.”