Plans for the multi-million-pound development of Dagenham Studios, London’s biggest new film facility, are still in place despite the withdrawal of US outfit Pacifica Ventures citing concerns over Brexit.
Representatives from Be First (Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration company), which is overseeing the development of the studios, said they are now exploring different options for the site.
Pacifica had had ’preferred partner’ status for the studio development in east London, but its exclusivity period has now elapsed. According to Be First Managing Director Pat Hayes, ”Pacifica told us they were finding it difficult to deliver their plans due to uncertainty over the UK leaving the European Union.”
“What is not in doubt is the viability and demand for studio space in the UK which remains sky high, and that is why I am convinced there will be plenty of interest from parties who want to make sure movies will be Made in Dagenham,” he added.
Bullish over Brexit
Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London and the British Film Commission, was bullish over suggestions Brexit is affecting inward investment in general in to the UK film and TV industry.
”From a Film London and British Film Commission point of view, there is no evidence whatsoever that Brexit is impacting anything to do with either inward investment or people wanting to invest in studio space,” said Wootton. ”The only shame from my point of view is that the negotiations with Pacifica didn’t work out and it has created a bit of a delay.”
“I have got no objective evidence whatever that Brexit is slowing down investment opportunities in terms of film and television,” Wootton continued.
Other investors are understood to have expressed interest in taking on the Dagenham project.
“The industry is incredibly buoyant,” a Be First spokesperson told Screen. He said the company was “being bombarded with requests” to use Dagenham. “Now that Pacifica’s period of grace has elapsed, we can do [the studio development] with anybody we like. We know there are plenty of other people out there who will do it.”
“We’ve been contacted by lots of people speculatively, not just by companies wanting to lease already existing properties,” Wootton said of the ongoing demand for studio space across the UK, pointing to the building going on everywhere from Shepperton to Belfast Harbour and Littlewoods in Liverpool and the immense interest in developing and using UK studio space.
As the site develops, Be First is looking to “skill up” local people and is liaising closely with local colleges, among them Barking and Dagenham College and the London campus of Coventry University, which is based in the borough. Although the area is already well served by the London underground stations, Be First has been in discussion with train operating company c2c about re-opening disused overground platforms at Dagenham East station to service the studio site.