Hertsmere: Go-ahead given for new Elstree Studios stages
- Credit: Hertsmere Borough Council / Elstree Studios
Ambitious plans to expand Elstree Studios have been given the go-ahead, providing a major jobs boost for Hertsmere.
The borough’s reputation as the ‘British Hollywood’ has been further cemented as plans for the expansion of Elstree Studios have been given the final green light.
The scheme to build two new soundstages and ancillary workshops on the site of the former Big Brother house can officially proceed after a £6 million government funding deal was successfully secured by studio owners, Hertsmere Borough Council.
The deal, approved by Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (Herts LEP) on behalf of the government, means Hertsmere is in line for a post-lockdown jobs boost, with the creation of at least 800 new jobs, once the stages are operational, plus apprenticeship opportunities for local school leavers and the unemployed.
A further £6 million of funding from council coffers for the project was approved in August.
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Councillor Morris Bright MBE, leader of Hertmere Borough Council, said: “Elstree Studios has been the beating heart of our borough for nearly 100 years.
“Alongside the council’s own funding commitment, this agreement with Herts LEP means we have secured the future of the studios for generations to come.
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“Not only is the ongoing vitality of the studios secured, this deal represents a huge opportunity for our residents, businesses and the UK creative sector.”
Elstree Studios is currently home to BBC’s Saturday night ballroom hit Strictly Come Dancing, which returned to TV screens last weekend, and Netflix’s global success The Crown, series four of which debuts on November 15.
The new stages planned for Elstree Studios come hot on the heels of the state-of-the-art Sky Studios Elstree project less than a mile away.
“The creation of two new soundstages and ancillary workshops will result in at least 800 new jobs, plus 100 new learner and apprenticeship opportunities, at a time when many local people are facing uncertain or bleak employment prospects because of the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Cllr Bright, who is also chairman of Elstree Studios.
“It also means that income received by the council from the studios can continue to be used to fund vital day-to-day services, such as parks, waste and recycling collection, community grants and street cleaning.
“While Hertsmere and the country as a whole faces unprecedented economic and social challenges, this project and the construction of the multi-million pound Sky Studios Elstree facility down the road, is a ray of light for us all.”
As part of the Elstree Studios deal, it has been agreed that £100,000 per year from the rental income received by the council will be invested locally into creative industries, including local media and creative enterprise and initiatives, equivalent to 30 per cent of the project’s profits over its life.
Mark Bretton, chair of Hertfordshire LEP and the LEP Network, said: “It is vital that we continue to invest in the development of our key growth sectors to help strengthen Hertfordshire’s economic fundamentals and give residents greater opportunities for high quality employment locally.
“Our £16.8m Getting Building Fund allocation will back five major projects to boost Hertfordshire’s high value sector clusters including film and TV, life sciences and smart construction; unlock 12,100sq m of commercial space; and bring forth up to 1,500 new jobs to support local economic recovery.
“The creative sector has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic and film production is key to the livelihood of a vast network of businesses.
“Our investment towards the expansion of Elstree Studios is a huge vote of confidence in Hertfordshire’s growing creative cluster and will provide a boost to the studio, as well as to the wider network that relies on its success.”
Prior to lockdown, plans were in place to fund the Elstree project through private investors.
However, the current economic crisis meant Hertsmere Council was forced to seek support from the government’s Getting Building Fund via Hertfordshire LEP.
The £900m fund was announced in August to deliver jobs, skills and infrastructure across the country.
The investment is being targeted in areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the pandemic.
It is supporting the delivery of shovel-ready infrastructure projects, agreed with mayors and Local Enterprise Partnerships to boost economic growth, and fuel local recovery and jobs.
Luke Hall, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, said: “Creative industries play an important role in the success of local economies.
“That is why I am delighted that plans have been approved for the expansion of Elstree Studios.
“Our £6m investment, through the Getting Building Fund, will help to create at least 800 jobs and 100 apprenticeship opportunities, with a proportion of the income and profits to be reinvested into levelling up the local creative sector.”