Elstree Studios' £15.6million expansion hits new heights as Hertsmere 'deserves to be known as British Hollywood'

The topping out ceremony of Elstree Studios' new soundstages, the Platinum Stages.

Representatives from Hertsmere Borough Council, Elstree Studios, RG Carter, Baqus and Herts LEP gather for the topping out ceremony of the new soundstages, the Platinum Stages. Pictured front row, middle, is Cllr Anne Swerling, with Cllr Morris Bright MBE, right, and Hertsmere MP, Oliver Dowden, left. - Credit: Hertsmere Borough Council

The £15.6million expansion of Hertsmere's Elstree Studios has reached new heights.

Work was completed this week on the outer structures of the two new soundstages.  

Contractors R G Carter finished work on the roof and walls of the two soundstages and ancillary workshops, now known as The Platinum Stages.

Helping to secure the final bolt in place in the wall was Hertsmere Mayor, Cllr Anne Swerling.

Cllr Swerling said: "I felt honoured to be asked to help put the finishing touches to the new Platinum Stages at this milestone moment for the project, Elstree Studios and the borough as a whole.

"Standing inside the new stages is quite an awe-inspiring and formidable feeling. I was very much struck by the incredible amount of work that has gone on to get this project so far.

"Thank you to everyone involved for their sterling efforts to make what a year or so ago was a plan on paper, now a reality."

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Also in attendance to mark the occasion were Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden, Cllr Morris Bright, leader of Hertsmere Borough Council and chairman of Elstree Studios Board of Directors, and Sajida Bijle, managing director of Hertsmere Borough Council.

The topping out ceremony of Elstree Studios' new soundstages, the Platinum Stages.

Representatives from Hertsmere Borough Council, Elstree Studios, RG Carter, Baqus and Herts LEP gather for the topping out ceremony of the new soundstages, the Platinum Stages. Pictured front row, middle, is Cllr Anne Swerling, with Cllr Morris Bright MBE, right, and Hertsmere MP, Oliver Dowden, left. - Credit: Hertsmere Borough Council

The two new soundstages have a combined workable footprint of 34,556 square feet, about half the size of a professional football pitch, and stand at a workable height of 45.6 feet.

The £15.6 million project, on the site of the former Big Brother house, has been funded by Hertsmere Borough Council and a £6million Getting Building Fund investment from the government via Hertfordshire LEP.

Councillor Morris Bright MBE said: “We're fast moving towards the completion of this exciting and inspirational project – and I'm pleased to say that thanks to the efforts of all our partners, we're on target to reach the deadline of a spring opening.

"The new Platinum Stages represent not just a major investment for the studios, they represent a token of faith in our borough and the UK's film and television production industry, as a whole. 

"Coupled with the creation of the multi-million pound Sky Studios Elstree down the road, this project reinforces Hertsmere’s status as the number one home for film and TV production.

"It means that Hertsmere well and truly deserves to be known as 'British Hollywood', something we should all feel proud about.” 

Elstree Studios is already home to BBC's Strictly Come Dancing and Netflix series The Crown and is managed by Elstree Film Studios Limited.

The new stages are designed to meet international space standards in studio design.

The facilities, which are clad in innovative timber cassettes, can be used as two separate stages or a combined super-sized one, and will provide a state-of-the-art environment for film and television production.

Once operational, they will create hundreds of new jobs, plus apprenticeships and other learning opportunities for local school leavers and the unemployed.

Rental income received by the council from the stages will be used to fund local services, though £100,000 has been earmarked for investment into creative industries, including local media and creative enterprise and initiatives. 

Elstree Studios' new soundstages earlier in the construction phase.

Elstree Studios' new soundstages earlier in the construction phase. - Credit: Elstree Studios

The name for the stages was selected from more than 400 entries in a two-week national competition held at the end of last year.

Former Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden CBE said: "It was a great pleasure to mark a key milestone for Elstree Studios’ new Platinum Stages at their topping out ceremony. 

"These state-of-the-art soundstages will allow the studios to expand its range of hit shows filmed here in Elstree, building on recent successes such as Netflix’s The Crown and Sky Atlantic’s Gangs of London. 

"The expansion of Elstree Studios – completed with a combination of funding from Hertsmere Borough Council and government investment – is further confirmation of Hertsmere’s status as a world-leading hotbed for film and TV production. 

"With construction set to be completed in record time, this is a great example of our local council and national government working together to strengthen our creative industries.

"I am delighted to see such strong progress on the project and look forward to the opening of the new stages later this year."

Others present at the landmark moment included Peter Geraghty, executive director of Hertsmere Council, Chris Denmead, acting managing director at Elstree Studios, and Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (Herts LEP) board member David Conway.

Chief financial and operations officer at ITN, David Conway said: “As someone who is very familiar with the history, revival and growth of Elstree Studios, it was fantastic to see the progression of the new soundstages alongside the major productions already being filmed here.

"The addition of the stages will further enhance the offering, reputation and lure of the UK’s answer to Hollywood here in Hertfordshire.

“The wider benefits to Hertfordshire’s residents and its economy were also a key factor in the decision to award LEP funding.

"Hertfordshire already holds a competitive advantage in producing film and TV, which we wanted to help supercharge."