Project Pinewood rejection sees studios tumble to loss

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Pinewood Shepperton slumped to a £3.9m loss in 2011 after it failed in a bid to build replicas of Paris, New York and Amsterdam on green belt land.

The film studios business enjoyed record revenues of £50.7m in 2011, up 17 per cent, after it filmed scenes for movies such as The Hobbit and the next James Bond film, Skyfall.

But it took an exceptional charge of £7.1m reflecting five years’ of costs for its ‘Project Pinewood’ application, which was turned down in January by an inspector from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

This pushed it into the red, whereas it had made profits of £5.8m the previous year.

Project Pinewood would have seen the creation of a ‘purpose-built’ film set with 1,400 permanent homes inside the streetscape buildings at Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire.

The project would reportedly have cost £200m and created almost 1,000 jobs in the next 10 years, with 420 affordable homes offered inside the film sets.

But the plans met fierce resistance from a Stop Project Pinewood campaign.

The verdict came in the week Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted producers to get more help to generate “commercially successful” independent pictures which are not bankrolled by Hollywood.

Pinewood chief executive Ivan Dunleavy said: “The company believes that Pinewood forms a vital part in driving growth in the UK’s well established and world-leading creative industry and, consequently, is disappointed that the planning inquiry did not result in a successful outcome for Project Pinewood.”

The company’s Pinewood and Shepperton studios have been home to more than 1,500 films in the last 75 years, while the two studios and the company’s Teddington site have hosted more than 600 television shows.

Mr Dunleavy added that demand for big budget films and large-scale television shows remains resilient.