A committee will meet next week to consider the Marlow Film Studios proposal after recommendations that it be refused due to its environmental impact.

The Buckinghamshire Council Strategic Sites Committee will meet at 1pm on Monday, October 23, to consider the Marlow Film Studios planning application, around which debate has raged between advocates and campaigners for over a year.

On the meeting agenda, planning officers stated their recommendation for the council's refusal of the application, following consideration of factors including the educational initiatives proposed by developers and the Greenbelt status of the 36-hectare site, located on scrubland near the A404 in Little Marlow.

While it was acknowledged that the proposal "represents a significant investment in one of Buckinghamshire's key economic sectors" and "would create employment opportunities and support local businesses", the officers concluded that the application should be refused in large part due to its designation within the Little Marlow Lakes Country Park, parts of which the council has a responsibility to classify as Suitable Alternative National Greenspace (SANG). 

Among the reasons cited for the recommended refusal was also the "significant effect" the development could have on the "integrity" of a Chiltern Beechwoods Special Area of Conservation (SAC) that is located 750 metres from the site, which could be at risk of increased air pollution from "increased construction or operational traffic". 

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The economic opportunities offered by the site, including 4,000 new jobs and an on-site skills academy, were afforded "significant weight" by the officers, while consideration was also given to the proposal's impact on local highways and transport, including plans for an upgrade of the 50-year-old Westhorpe Interchange (A4155/A404). 

A spokesperson for the environmental campaign group Save Marlow's Greenbelt, which has been vocal in opposition to the film studio, said they were "delighted" by the recommendation.

They added: "It is an inappropriate development whose trivial economic benefits don't outweigh the loss of Greenbelt, traffic congestion and harm to the environment."

Robert Laycock, CEO of Marlow Film Studios said he was looking forward to "putting the merits of the strong proposal" to the committee next week as well as "addressing the issues raised".

"We will continue to work closely with the authorities concerned because along with our dedicated supporters we have overriding confidence that Marlow Film Studios will bring significant large-scale benefits to the region and the UK as a whole.

"Failing to grasp this unique proposition with its outstanding job and training opportunities represents a seismic missed opportunity for the UK economy if this investment is allowed to slip away."