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Villagers in Iver Heath and Fulmer to fight film studios over £200m expansion
VILLAGERS are set to relaunch their campaign against a £200 million expansion of Pinewood film studios.
Campaigners have already seen off one major planning application from Pinewood, but now face another lengthy battle to save an area of Green Belt land in Iver Heath.
Last week Pinewood Shepperton plc submitted plans to massively increase the size of its site to include new stages, workshops, production offices and streetscapes for filming.
A previous plan which included 1,400 residential properties was refused by South Bucks District Council in 2009, with the refusal later upheld by the government.
Iver Heath resident Sylvie Lowe, who is chairman of the Stop Project Pinewood campaign group, said: “They’ve removed the houses from the plan but it’s basically much the same. What we’re actually against is the development on the Green Belt.
“We don’t want to hand over to our children and grandchildren something that’s concreted over.”
Pinewood, which is regularly used for major blockbusters such as the James Bond and Harry Potter films, says the expansion would create 3,100 new jobs and ‘support’ 8,100 jobs.
But Fulmer parish councillor Susie Simkins, of Cherry Tree Lane, said these figures would ‘ring alarm bells’ for villagers who are concerned about traffic issues.
She added: “It’s Green Belt and they can’t put a spade in the ground. It will be fought by us and that’s the bottom line.”
Fellow councillor Ronnie Lamb, of Stoke Common Road, worries that Fulmer will be “dwarfed” by the development.
Pinewood says the plan will help it continue to compete on a global scale, while celebrated film directors Ridley Scott and Danny Boyle have already voiced their support for the expansion.
Judging on recent form, South Bucks District Council is likely to reject the application, which could then be appealed by Pinewood bosses.
An appeal would likely leave the ultimate decision with the Secretary of State of State for Communities and Local Government - currently Conservative Eric Pickles.