The campaign to create new studio space in the U.K. continues apace, with a new plan to build a major studio in Scotland in the works. PSL Land, the team behind the thwarted Pentland Studios project, has now shifted its attention to a different site near Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, as the home of an international film and TV base.
The company has lodged a planning application to build a studio and a film academy at Salters Gate, about a 20-minute-drive from the Edinburgh airport. The move means that, after years of industry pressure, plans are currently underway to establish two major production facilities in Scotland. The other project, an industrial site at Bath Road where parts of “Avengers: Infinity War” were shot, is also close to Edinburgh.
PSL Land’s earlier Pentland Studios proposal at Straiton, on the edge of Edinburgh, stalled after a Scottish court ruled in favor of a local farmer who objected to the development. But the owners of the Salters Gate site, Buccleuch Estates, then contacted PSL Land to offer up the new site, which had only recently become available. There is now a sale agreement in principle between the two parties.
The new studio would be slightly larger than, for example, the historic Shepperton Studios outside London (which is itself undergoing expansion). The plan envisions a complex spanning 48 acres, with nine sound stages across 208,000 square feet. There will also be workshops across 122,000 square feet, a commissary building, and media hub. A data center would be built at the original Straiton site, according to the new planning application submitted by PSL Land on Wednesday.
PSL is also talking to Edinburgh Napier University about establishing a Scottish Film Academy on the site with teaching facilities, screening rooms and student accommodation.
While other parts of the U.K. – England, Wales and Northern Ireland – have all established studios, Scotland has lagged behind.
“You look at what’s happening in the Bristol and South Wales corridor or Belfast, and the one area of the U.K. that is missing out by a country mile and has been for years is Scotland,” Nick Smith, a former commercial director at Pinewood, told Variety. Smith was instrumental in the Pentland Studios plan as well as the new proposal for the Salters Gate studio, which does not yet have a moniker.
If everything goes according to plan, work could commence on it in March. Given that the project has been extensively modeled already, there could be people using the studios by late 2019 or early 2020, Smith said.
Nick Waugh, commercial property director at the commercial arm of Buccleuch Estates, said: “We recognize the importance of this ambitious project, and are delighted to play a role in helping deliver a world-class film studio to Scotland that will inevitably transform the Scottish creative industry and our reputation as a filming location across the globe.”
Demand for studio space in Britain has boomed in recent years, fueled by a generous filming tax break, a skilled local workforce and good infrastructure. In England alone, new studio projects are underway in Leeds, Liverpool, London, and Oxfordshire, while existing sites at Pinewood and Shepperton are being expanded.