‘The British Hollywood’ – Sky’s new TV and film studios in Hertsmere approved

Sky Studios Elstree entrance. Picture: Sky

Sky Studios Elstree entrance. Picture: Sky - Credit: Sky

A state-of-the-art film and TV studios in Hertfordshire for Sky has been given planning approval.

Nigel Wilson, CEO of Legal & General, Helen Parker, of NBCUniversal, Caroline Cooper, CFO of Sky Stu

Nigel Wilson, CEO of Legal & General, Helen Parker, of NBCUniversal, Caroline Cooper, CFO of Sky Studios, and Councillor Morris Bright MBE, leader of Hertsmere Council, at the site of where Sky Studios Elstree will be built. Picture: Sky - Credit: Sky

Hertsmere Borough Council planners unanimously gave the green light for Sky Studios Elstree last night (Wednesday).

Construction work on the 12 sound stages will begin on the 11.34-hectares Rowley Lane site in Borehamwood, just five miles down the road from Potters Bar, this month.

A joint project between Sky, NBCUniversal and Legal & General, the world-leading film and TV studio is set to open in 2022.

The investment to set to generate over 2,000 jobs, including 900 in the construction phase, and will bring an estimated £3bn of production spend to the county in the first five years alone.

Secretary of State for Culture Oliver Dowden called the development “a real vote of confidence in Britain’s screen industries”.

The MP for Hertsmere said: “The film and TV industry plays a vital role in the UK’s economy, with its programming keeping us informed, entertained and connected over the past few months.

Sky Studios Elstree will bring more big screen productions to Hertfordshire. Picture: Sky

Sky Studios Elstree will bring more big screen productions to Hertfordshire. Picture: Sky - Credit: Sky

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“Sky Studios Elstree will become home to the best-loved films and TV shows of the future, championing British creativity on the global stage.

“It will also bring investment, jobs and opportunities to people across Hertsmere – cementing Elstree and Borehamwood’s reputation as ‘The British Hollywood’.”

The complex will include nine buildings, comprising a dozen sound stages, an administrative block, production support buildings and a multi-storey car park.

There will be a landscaped central plaza and the studios will be one of the most sustainable film and TV production hubs, with solar power and rainwater harvesting plans on site.

Councillor Morris Bright, leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, welcomed the news, saying it was a “massive thumbs up for UK creative industries”.

The chairman of Elstree Studios said: “We have a long and illustrious reputation for film and television production in our borough.

Sky Studios Elstree entrance. Picture: Sky

Sky Studios Elstree entrance. Picture: Sky - Credit: Sky

“This exciting development means the creative industries will continue to thrive in Hertsmere.

“For local people, it means not just jobs – potentially 2,000 roles being created – but a major injection of skills and expertise, which we hope to harness through educational and training opportunities.

“And Sky Studios Elstree’s huge production spend will provide a massive boost to the local economy such as retail and leisure sectors and professional services at the heart of our communities in Hertsmere.”

Cllr Bright added: “Above all, this is a moment of huge pride for our residents and businesses.

“With the council-owned Elstree Studios, nearby BBC Elstree and now Sky Studios Elstree, this really does mean the return of the British Hollywood to our borough.”

The development represents a significant investment in the UK and European creative economy and will be made with the backing of Sky’s owner Comcast, and in partnership with sister-company NBCUniversal.

Cllr Morris Bright MBE, leader of Hertsmere Borough Council

Cllr Morris Bright MBE, leader of Hertsmere Borough Council - Credit: Hertsmere Borough Council

Caroline Cooper, chief financial officer of Sky Studios, said: “Even during challenging economic times, Sky Studios Elstree represents Sky’s continued commitment to the UK’s cultural economy, as well as our goal to recruit, train and develop the leading creative talent of tomorrow.

“Alongside our colleagues at NBCUniversal and our partners at Legal & General, we will create a world-leading production studio that will turbocharge Sky Studios’ plans to create even more award-winning Sky Originals for our customers.

She added: “We would like to thank Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden MP, Cllr Morris Bright MBE and Hertsmere Borough Council for supporting the project, providing useful guidance and feedback to ensure the project further boosts the local economy and celebrates the best of British and international creativity.”

Legal & General will be financing and developing the scheme, which is located off the A1 Barnet Bypass at Borehamwood, just a short drive from the M25 at South Mimms.

Nigel Wilson, CEO of Legal & General, said: “This is a critical investment for the UK’s bounce back.

“Landmark construction projects are rocket fuel for the economy and investing in our creative industries has never been more important.

“As a global leader, Sky attracts and retains the best talent, continuing to bolster the UK’s entertainment sector whilst driving job creation and economic growth.”

Over the first five years of operation, it is expected that Sky Studios Elstree will generate up to an additional £3 billion of production investment in the UK’s creative economy from Sky, NBCUniversal and other producers.

The final design for Sky Studios Elstree sees 12 sound stages on site, with the ability to merge together and sub-divide multiple sound stages simultaneously, providing flexibility and scalability to accommodate productions of all sizes.

This means that the biggest sound stages on site can now increase to cover 60,000sq ft if needed, or reduce to much smaller segregated studios, providing Sky Studios and NBCUniversal a COVID-19-ready set up for the future.

The production facilities and digital suites will also be set up to facilitate remote working.

Once operational, the scheme will provide much-needed space for the ongoing boom in film and TV production in the UK – attracting the European and international creative community to do their best work in Britain.

The total area of the site will cover the equivalent of 17 football pitches.

Sky Studios Elstree will be located at Rowley Lane, just a short walk from Elstree Studios, home of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and where The King’s Speech was made.

Roger Morris, managing director of Elstree Studios, said: “This is a major coup for the UK creative industries at this crucial time, with major infrastructure investment, incoming production investment and substantial job creation.”

Sky Studios Elstree will become home to a host of Sky Originals, created by Sky Studios, as well as major film productions from Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Working Title, and television series from Universal Studio Group.

It will also have capacity to host productions from third party producers.

Helen Parker, executive vice president of Universal Pictures Content Group, NBCUniversal, said: “After years of producing great content in London, NBCUniversal is excited to have Sky Studios Elstree, our own production destination for our film and television studios – including Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Working Title, and Universal Studio Group – where we can fully embrace all that the flourishing UK creative industry offers.

“We look forward to continued collaboration with our colleagues at Sky Studios.”

The construction phase of the build will contribute £230 million to the UK economy in the period 2020-2021.

Sky Studios Elstree will lead to the creation of over 2,000 jobs in the local area, including 900 during construction, and 1,500 once the studio is operational.

The full-time roles will include a significant number of production jobs alongside roles supporting the running of the studio’s operations.

Sky Studios is also committed to supporting the next generation of young and diverse creative talent and will use Sky Studios Elstree to build on its existing work in this area, which includes Sky Academy Studios and Mama Youth Project, an initiative that equips young people, aged between 18-25 years of age from under-represented groups, with the necessary skills to work in the TV industry.

In line with Sky’s commitment to become Net Zero Carbon by 2030, and matching Legal & General’s drive to deliver major ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) projects, it is expected that Sky Studios Elstree will become the most sustainable film and TV production site in the world when it opens in two years.

As part of the design process, the businesses have actively looked at all sustainable development opportunities, with the project set to use reduced embodied carbon in construction.

It is hoped that Sky Studios Elstree will have the capability to generate 20 per cent of its own energy on site through solar energy.

No gas or fossil fuels will be used to power day-to-day operations and Sky will also harvest rainwater for use on site.

The studios will not allow any single-use plastics in Sky operations, and has planned for how cast and crew will use the studio on a day-to-day basis, including green spaces and landscaping across the site.

Hertsmere Borough Council’s planning committee voted to approve the Sky Studios Elstree planning application, subject to receipt of a satisfactory completed Section 106 legal agreement.