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Major Midlothian film & TV studio secures outline consent

April 5 2017

Major Midlothian film & TV studio secures outline consent
Pentland Studios have won approval in principle to press ahead with a significant film and television studio at Straiton, Edinburgh, in a bid to attract major international productions.

A detailed planning application for the site will now be drawn up by Keppie for a film studio, academy and energy centre on the Midlothian site, which could also include shops, offices, a 180-room hotel, six sound stages, two backlots and student accommodation.

In a statement PSL Land Ltd said: "Working together with Midlothian Council, PSL hope this next stage will be expedited accordingly, recovering the construction scheduling that will enable delivery of the key Studio operation by late 2018. It is anticipated that a detailed schedule to progress the planning application will be agreed with Midlothian Council in the next few weeks, producing a phased timeframe with the Studio, Academy and Energy Centre as the first buildings to be progressed to full planning consent.”

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff will assist in the planning of the £250m facility, which was given consent to proceed despite running contrary to the Midlothian local development plan, working with Midlothian Council to identify routes for the proposed A701 relief road.


Jimbob Tanktop
#1 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 5 Apr 2017 at 19:18 PM
Where's the pay-off for this? If it's costing £250m the developers will be anticipating, what...£20m per year as a return? Which is 2/3 of the projected budget of the newly proposed BBC Scotland TV channel, so it's doubtful much will be coming from that direction.

What would motivate a developer, whose directors all have experience of house building as opposed to film studios, to forego trying to build 500 houses on a (formerly) green-field site? Why not opt for a much cheaper brownfield site?

Genuine question.
dave the detailer
#2 Posted by dave the detailer on 6 Apr 2017 at 07:07 AM
#1 it'll interest them because when it flops in a few years time due to high running costs and no need due to green screen tech it's ripe for turning into resi. Cynical? Moi?
#3 Posted by Felix on 6 Apr 2017 at 08:07 AM
This will never be built. A puff piece for all involved.
#4 Posted by Frank on 6 Apr 2017 at 09:45 AM
Trojan horse perhaps....?
#5 Posted by Observer on 6 Apr 2017 at 10:51 AM
Regarding the trojan horse suspicions - I believe this was the basis for two very prominent planning consultancies objecting to the scheme on behalf of two major Edinburgh retail centres.

The fact that Midlothian Council did not support the project says a lot. The A701 relief road was a key issue for them, as I think this would run through the site. Difficult one for the government, given the profile and media angle.

Note that consent has NOT yet been granted - only minded to consent subject to a legal agreement relating to the A701.
#6 Posted by Daniel on 6 Apr 2017 at 10:56 AM
Without trying to be cynical - there's been a massive explosion in the production of scripted drama shows in the last 5-10 years. Primarily this was in the United States, with channels like HBO, Showtime, AMC, USA FX, and other smaller networks vastly increasing their output.

But now its spread and you've got Netflix and Amazon spending huge amounts on new content, with a much more internationalist outlook. They're also all competing with each other to target specific niches, find something new. I can't find it now but The Guardian published a piece a while back about how there's very little capacity in the North American studio market as a result, so more and more productions are looking to move overseas.

So this might work. Providing that boom continues. Which it might not. Errr...
#7 Posted by Basho on 6 Apr 2017 at 15:48 PM
At last. If Wales and Northern Ireland can support a functioning film studio so can Scotland. Incredible cynicism for a development this country has embarrassingly lacked before now.
Jimbob Tanktop
#8 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 6 Apr 2017 at 18:23 PM
The 'cynicism' you may or may not detect has nothing to do with a film studio or its existence. It *may* have something to do with a suspicion that it doesn't need to be built by a company many of whose directors have links to housebuilders but none of whom have obvious links with film or TV production.

That they had to build it on green belt land, with all its attendant issues when brownfield sites were available raises eyebrows. If it really is going to generate tens of millions for the local economy every single year, why not go for the cheapest, most readily available option? If the studio is the key ingredient in the proposal, does it have to sited in a part of the country where house prices are highest?

I really, really hope it comes to fruition. You're right, Scotland does need a proper film studio, especially given the way broadcasting is changing and becoming much more internationalist in outlook. However, the suspicion is that in a few years the scheme will have been downgraded markedly with a couple of thousand 'executive villas' on site instead. I really hope that's wrong because to take the goodwill of professionals whose community has been starved of investment and forced to relocate for work while their industry booms globally, and who are desperately keen to leverage their support to reach any helping hand would be cynical beyond belief.
#9 Posted by Weissman on 6 Apr 2017 at 18:58 PM
#8. So neither a former Ealing Studios director nor a former Warner Bros development manager count as having "obvious links with film or TV production" for you?

Jimbob Tanktop
#10 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 7 Apr 2017 at 02:28 AM
Neither of whom are listed as directors.
#11 Posted by Weissman on 7 Apr 2017 at 09:29 AM
They're the CEO and development director...
Jimbob Tanktop
#12 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 7 Apr 2017 at 14:52 PM
Of PSL Land Ltd? Or the company which will run the studio once it's complete?
#13 Posted by Weissman on 7 Apr 2017 at 15:45 PM
PSL. Pinewood rumoured to be operating the production facilities if/when they are built.
Jimbob Tanktop
#14 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 10 Apr 2017 at 18:27 PM
Okay, fair enough.

I promise you, I'm not trolling, but a £250 million development does raise questions. Pinewood's annual profits, after all its years of existence, is around £13 million. Obviously, this newcomer would take some time to build up that level of business, so perhaps a fair comparison would be with Elstree, which currently makes an annual profit of £75,000 and had to be taken under the ownership umbrella of the local council after a difficult few years. Elstree now hosts things like Strictly Come Dancing and movies like The King's Speech were made there and provides great benefit to the local burgh, but in terms of a return on investment, it's hardly a stellar prospect for financiers.

However, as I said before, I wish them the best of luck.
#15 Posted by Terra on 17 Apr 2017 at 11:50 AM
Fantastic news!

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