Developers have been given the green light to build a £250m film complex in Kent to provide much-needed studio space for streaming giants such as Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN).
Local councillors last night approved plans for Ashford International Film Studios, which will boast 240,000 square feet of production space.
Derelict railway works
The complex, built on a 13-acre site at Kent’s derelict Newtown Railway Works, will also feature a media village, educational centre and hotel. It aims to create 2,000 jobs when it opens in early 2022.
The Ashford studios form part of a wider project launched by The Creative District Improvement Company (TCDI) to invest £500m in new UK studio space.
TCDI, led by British media tycoons Piers Read and Jeremy Rainbird, has already acquired Twickenham Studios and aims to open 1m square feet of production space by 2024.
Netflix and Amazon are among the streaming giants to express interest in the scheme amid booming demand for new films and TV shows.
Demand to surge
This demand is likely to surge further once lockdown measures have been lifted, as the pandemic has forced production companies to put all filming on hold.
“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,” TCDI founders Read and Rainbird said in a joint statement.
“Global streaming giants have already expressed interest in the scheme as demand for their services booms and before there is a huge backlog in production, as people stay at home and burn through original content at record levels.”
Work is set to begin immediately on the Grade II-listed building at the Newtown Works, the former home of a locomotive manufacturing company that was abandoned in the 1980s.
The studio space will be located close to the Ashford Eurostar stop, providing links with Netflix’s European hub in Amsterdam and France’s TF1 network.
Exceptional boom time
“The UK screen industries have been experiencing an exceptional boom time and we look forward to building on this by continuing as an industry to invest in skills and develop our world-class infrastructure,” said Adrian Wootton, chief executive of the British Film Commission and Film London.
“Today’s announcement highlights the industry’s commitment to an ongoing strategy to ensure its sustainability, building on the UK’s rich history of attracting filmmakers, nurturing talent and creating world class content.”
Developers have been lining up to meet the surging demand for new studio space in the UK.
Sky has announced plans for a new 32-acre production hub in Elstree, while US-based Blackhall Studios has inked a £150m deal to build the country’s largest purpose-built studio complex near Reading.
Main image credit: TCDI