Pinewood Studios’ plans for a major $327m (£198m) expansion of its UK site have been rejected by the local council.
South Buckinghamshire District Council’s planning committee turned down the application, which included creating 1,400 new homes inside new permanent sets and training facilities, because it would mean building on Green Belt land. Green Belt planning policy aims to keep land around cities and towns open by preventing urban sprawl.
The studio has claimed that the creation of new lots, which include a number of different cityscapes such as New York brownstones and a Parisian square, was vital to the future of the UK film industry. The studio has played host to numerous productions including the Harry Potter films.
Local residents formed the Stop Project Pinewood group to register their opposition to the plans, and many showed their feeling by attended the meeting. Julian Wilson, chairman of the local parish council, told the committee: “This is nothing more than a cynical attempt to build 1,400 houses on Green Belt land. I urge you to refuse it.” The committee rejected the plan unanimously.
Pinewood said it remained committed to its vision and believed the benefits of the scheme, including training, jobs and affordable homes, justified the use of green land. The studio is expected to appeal the decision. Andrew Smith, group director of corporate affairs, said: “This project is of national significance and of great benefit not only to our community and region but also to the UK and its creative industries. We feel the benefits of skills, training, jobs, affordable homes and growth presented by this innovative project demonstrate the very special circumstances to develop land in the Green Belt. We will now review the details of SBDC’s decision”.
Pinewood Studios Group also includes Shepperton Studios, in Middlesex and London’s Teddington Studios.