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June 19, 2014 7:58 pm
One of the UK’s biggest film studios has won permission for a £200m expansion, in a move that could help secure its status as the production base for the James Bond and Star Wars franchises.
Two previous applications by Pinewood Studios to double its capacity had been turned down by South Buckinghamshire district council. Residents highlighted its impact on London’s greenbelt.
However, it won an appeal to the Department for Communities and Local Government after dropping a plan to build 1,000 houses on the site, in countryside near the junction of the M25 and M40 motorways.
An inspector ruled that “unique circumstances” justified the adverse impact caused by Pinewood adding an extra 100,000 square metres of studio space.
The decision comes after the government sought to loosen planning rules to boost economic growth.
The Conservative-led coalition has also emphasised the contribution of the creative industries, extending tax breaks to lure high-budget television and film productions.
Pinewood’s plan will make it the biggest studio in the UK, able to host four film productions instead of two at any one time.
“We want to begin construction as soon as possible,” Ivan Dunleavy, Pinewood Shepperton’s chief executive, said in a statement.
Since its planning application was first rejected in 2009, Pinewood has hosted productions including the Bond film Skyfall, and an instalment of Pirates of the Caribbean. The next Bond film, known only as Bond 24, will begin filming this year.
Elstree Studios, Pinewood’s smaller rival, is also investing in a multimillion pound expansion.
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