London’s Dagenham Studios Gets Planning Approval

The proposal to build London’s largest film studios on former industrial land in the suburb of Dagenham has been approved by the Barking and Dagenham Council’s planning committee.

The approval comes after what has been a tumultuous journey. In 2018, leading U.S. production facility developer Pacifica Ventures and private equity firm Media Content Capital won the bid to develop the 22-acre site of the former Sanofi Pharmaceuticals manufacturing plant as a studio. The project hit a roadblock in 2019, when Pacifica decided to take a step back amidst Brexit uncertainty.

In March, Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration organization, submitted a planning application and new designs, which have now been approved.

Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “This is a huge decision for the borough. It gives the green light to what will be London’s largest film studios, so it’s a major milestone in the renewal of a part of London badly hit by de-industrialization and austerity.”

The planned studios will feature six sound stages covering 140,000 sq. ft., 85,200 sq. ft. of offices and 174,500 sq. ft. of workshops. An estimated 1,200 jobs are projected to be created by the studios and associated services.

Be First is in discussions with interested parties to determine whether to secure a joint-venture agreement, a land sale, or a build and lease model.

Be First managing director Pat Hayes said: “We’ve had a great deal of interest in the site and with planning permission secured the interest will intensify. With the ever-growing demand for studio space in the U.K., we’re in a very good position to take this project forward.”

Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.K. screen industries were enjoying an exceptional boom time and we’re committed to driving the sector’s recovery. Following our publication of the U.K.’s British Film Commission production guidance, as we get back to work safely and production starts shooting again, I am confident that we shall return to that level of growth, and exceed it, in coming years. So, it’s crucial we continue to develop our world-class infrastructure.”

Films shot recently in Dagenham include “Black Widow” and “Morbius.”

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