Hertsmere: Go-ahead given for new Elstree Studios stages

PUBLISHED: 10:53 20 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:22 22 October 2020

An artist's impression of the two new soundstages which will be built on the former Big Brother house at Elstree Studios, following a successful bid from the government's Getting Building Fund. Picture: Hertsmere Borough Council / Elstree Studios

An artist's impression of the two new soundstages which will be built on the former Big Brother house at Elstree Studios, following a successful bid from the government's Getting Building Fund. Picture: Hertsmere Borough Council / Elstree Studios

Hertsmere Borough Council / Elstree Studios

Ambitious plans to expand Elstree Studios have been given the go-ahead, providing a major jobs boost for Hertsmere.

Hertsmere Borough Council leader Councillor Morris Bright at Elstree StudiosHertsmere Borough Council leader Councillor Morris Bright at Elstree Studios

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.

Hertfordshire Local Enterprise PartnershipHertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership

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.

“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.

Outside the George Lucas Stages at Elstree StudiosOutside the George Lucas Stages at Elstree Studios

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.

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

The 2020 Strictly Come Dancing celebrity and professional dancers. Picture: BBC/Guy LevyThe 2020 Strictly Come Dancing celebrity and professional dancers. Picture: BBC/Guy Levy

“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.

Stephen Boxer as Dennis Thatcher and Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher on the steps of 10 Downing Street in series four of The Crown. Picture: Des Willie/NetflixStephen Boxer as Dennis Thatcher and Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher on the steps of 10 Downing Street in series four of The Crown. Picture: Des Willie/Netflix

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.”

Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in season four of The Crown. Picture: Alex Bailey/NetflixEmma Corrin as Princess Diana in season four of The Crown. Picture: Alex Bailey/Netflix

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.

Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip and Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II in the forthcoming fourth season of Netflix's The Crown. Picture: Alex Bailey/NetflixTobias Menzies as Prince Philip and Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II in the forthcoming fourth season of Netflix's The Crown. Picture: Alex Bailey/Netflix

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.”

Strictly Come Dancing judges  Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas, and Motsi Mabuse. Picture: BBC/Guy LevyStrictly Come Dancing judges Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas, and Motsi Mabuse. Picture: BBC/Guy Levy

Karen Hauer and Jamie Lang dancing on the Strictly Come Dancing launch show. Picture: BBC/Guy LevyKaren Hauer and Jamie Lang dancing on the Strictly Come Dancing launch show. Picture: BBC/Guy Levy

Strictly Come Dancing contestant Caroline Quentin and pro dancer Johannes Radebe. Picture: BBC/Guy LevyStrictly Come Dancing contestant Caroline Quentin and pro dancer Johannes Radebe. Picture: BBC/Guy Levy

Nicola Adams and professional dancer Katya Jones on Strictly Come Dancing. Picture: BBC/Guy LevyNicola Adams and professional dancer Katya Jones on Strictly Come Dancing. Picture: BBC/Guy Levy

Strictly Come Dancing's Oti Mabuse and comedian Bill Bailey. Picture: BBC/Guy LevyStrictly Come Dancing's Oti Mabuse and comedian Bill Bailey. Picture: BBC/Guy Levy

Strictly Come Dancing contestant Nicola Adams and professional dancer Katya Jones. Picture: BBC/Guy LevyStrictly Come Dancing contestant Nicola Adams and professional dancer Katya Jones. Picture: BBC/Guy Levy

The Strictly Come Dancing launch show, which is filmed at Elstree Studios. Picture BBC /  Guy LevyThe Strictly Come Dancing launch show, which is filmed at Elstree Studios. Picture BBC / Guy Levy


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