The Pinewood Studio Group is hoping to attract film-makers and house hunters with its $327m (£200m) expansion plans, which will see residents living inside sets.
The unique scheme will create locations such as Parisian square, a Venetian Canal and New York brownstones, which will have flats and houses. Up to 15% of the scheme’s total budget will be spent creating facades for the homes, which will go on sale to the general public, with the rest spent on the housing, building a school and the development’s infrastructure.
The plans were submitted to South Bucks District Council last week as part of Pinewood’s planning application for the expansion. There has been local opposition to the plans, which include building on greenbelt land. However, the company claims this would be offset by environmentally sound initiatives.
It is not yet clear what affect filming would have on the residents. Their purchase or letting agreements would contain a series of covenants, requiring them to close windows or move cars, while film-makers would be also be subject to restrictions such as not using explosives at night.
David Wight, head of group property at The Pinewood Studios Group, said the new facilities would benefit low-budget films, TV drama productions, the advertising and gaming industries and photographers.
He said: “This is a huge leap forward for location directors who are used to conventional streets, and the residents will be completely able to conduct their lives.”
Some view the unique scheme as little more than a residential real-estate deal. One producer, who declined to be named, said: “It’s a housing development; they’re going to make a ton of money. It’s going to be of little benefit to the film industry.”
But not everyone agreed. Andrew Noakes, associate producer at Pinewood-based Eon Productions, makers of the Bond films, said: “It’s a good idea for low-budget film-makers that can’t build their own sets or travel abroad.”
Responding to the criticism, Wight said: “Often film-makers have to pay more to shoot at weekends and to close off streets; film-makers will be able to use the new facilities during the working week. This has been very carefully designed and thought through with people who design and build sets.”