PINEWOOD Studios’ controversial £200 million development plan which would have seen 1,400 new homes and ‘live-in’ film sets built on Green Belt land has been thrown out by the Government.
The Project Pinewood plan for Iver Heath, which has been met with fierce opposition by members of the community, was refused by secretary of state Eric Pickles.
The proposal would also have included a primary school, retail, community and other buildings and facilities for employment use.
It’s ‘streetscape’ buildings would have been based on a Venice canal and New York street scenes among others.
These would have been used for filming but were also intended to double as living spaces.
Pinewood Shepperton PLC, said it was disappointed by the news and “will now take time to review the decision in detail.”
The world famous studios have been used for the filming of both the James Bond and Harry Potter series’of films over the years.
South Bucks District Council leader Adrian Busby welcomed the decision – yet also hit out at the Government’s recent approval of the High Speed 2 plan, which would see a rail line from London to Birmingham run through the Chilterns.
He said: “Coming so closely after the appalling HS2 decision from Government, this is better news for the district, the people of Iver and surrounding areas and for the environment.
“I was never in doubt that this proposal should not go ahead and I am glad that the secretary of state agrees.
"Unlike the HS2 decision this demonstrates that the Government means what it said in its recent draft National Planning Policy Framework by ‘ The Government attaches great importance to Green belts. The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence'.”
Deputy leader and portfolio holder for sustainable development, Cll Roger Reed, added: “I am pleased that the Government has seen through the weak and flawed case put forward by Pinewood Studios.”
SBDC refused planning permission for the expansion plan in October 2009, as anti-Project Pinewood protesters massed outside the council’s offices in Denham.
The council refused the scheme on the basis that the proposals were inappropriate development in the Metropolitan Green Belt and that the applicant has not demonstrated any special circumstances sufficient to warrant an exception to Green Belt policies, that the proposal would urbanised and harm the landscape of the Colne Valley Park, that the site is in an unsustainable location with poor accessibility to facilities and services which would generate significant levels of car use inconsistent with national and local policy, and that the proposals would adversely affect trees and hedgerows.
Pinewood Studios Ltd submitted an appeal against the SBDC decision in 2010 and a public inquiry was held at the Evreham Centre in Iver in April and May 2011.
The studio said the project was essential for the UK’s creative industries, was “of national and regional significance” and would bring considerable economic benefits and boost employment. It had received the backing of a number of business and industry figures, such as film director Ridley Scott.
A statement from the studio said: “Pinewood Shepperton plc (“The Company”) is disappointed by today’s decision by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to refuse planning permission for Project Pinewood. The Company will now take time to review the decision in detail.”
“The Company’s investment in the Project Pinewood land and costs incurred for the planning application are not material to the long term prospects of the Company. The Company will continue to implement its master planning consents at Pinewood and Shepperton studios and pursue its international strategy of developing studios overseas.
“Pinewood Shepperton plc is the leading European provider of studio and related services to the worldwide film and television industry.”