Locals have slammed Sky Studios’ plans to expand its Elstree film and TV hub, which could create 2,000 new jobs for the local area according to the media giant.
Dubbed Sky Studios Elstree North, the plans – which are subject to planning permission – would take the total number of soundstages onsite to 23, and enable an additional £2bn of production investment over the first five years of opening.
However, the local Green Belt protection group Save Hertsmere said the extension would bring “urban sprawl right up to the pretty hamlet of Well End, with all the noise, light and traffic pollution that brings”.
“Green Belt is not there for companies to take because it makes it easier for them to make a profit, not want to destroy this land if they really live by their self-proclaimed green credentials. There are credible brownfield options nearby and we urge them to reconsider,” the group said.
The group also argued in its objection to the build that the scope for local employment is also limited compared to what Sky is projecting it to be.
“There is very limited local employment of only 88 possible local jobs on this site , so the direct economic
benefits to this locality are in fact limited,” the group wrote in an official objection filed against the planning permission.
During the summer, Sky ran a Sky Zero ‘Be a Force for Nature’ campaign with the WWF on a mission to protect UK habitats.
However, they were criticised for damaging the wildflower meadows on Green Belt next to their site during construction of Sky Studios Elstree South.
Sky have currently offered to pay over £700,000 for the loss of biodiversity, but the Save Hertsmere group has called for this figure to be within the millions.
Sky has received objections from The Environment Agency, The Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, the CPRE, Shenley Parish Council, The National Highways Agency and Hertsmere’s Arboricultural advisers.
A spokesperson for Sky Studios Elstree told City A.M.: “We have conducted a significant number of environmental and bio-diversity surveys and studies – none of which have highlighted any signs of protected wildlife – and the overall scheme will contribute to over 10 per cent net gain in biodiversity in the Borough,”
“We remain committed to working in partnership with the local community, including Save Hertsmere, who are members of our Community Board.”
As reported by City A.M. in June, Sky brought forward proposals to expand Sky Studios Elstree with 10 new sound stages.
“Elstree and Borehamwood has an incredible history in film and TV production and we are proud to present proposals to invest further in the area by bringing more jobs, training and investment to the local community,” Sky Studios chief operating officer Caroline Cooper said at the time.
It’s not just Sky that are spending big in the UK. Amazon Prime Video also announced a landmark multimillion-pound long-term contract with Shepperton Studios earlier this year for exclusive use of new facilities at the Surrey studios for future original TV series and movie productions.
Netflix and and Disney have both pledged to continue to invest in British TV and film production, driving demand for more studio space.