Ahead of a decision on whether a controversial film studio development should go ahead in Buckinghamshire, we round up the arguments for and against the proposal.

There has been much back and forth between advocates and detractors of Marlow Film Studios – a multi-million-pound development proposed for construction on scrubland near the A404 in Little Marlow.

Some of the biggest arguments in favour of the film studio are the UK’s status as a growing hotspot for filmmakers around the world, as well as the provision of a healthy boost to the area’s economy and purportedly extensive training and career opportunities.

Some of the most damning against it include criticism of the developers’ encroachment on Greenbelt land and the stress the extra vehicles of studio employees could put on local highways.

Here’s our round-up of the case for and against Marlow Film Studios:


Jobs: Developers have promised 4,000 new jobs at Marlow Film Studios – something that would be welcomed by the thousands of film and TV workers in the UK who are currently out of work or at risk of losing their jobs in the wake of ongoing industry strikes across the pond.

The film studio application also proposes an on-site Culture and Skills Academy in conjunction with Buckinghamshire College Group – helping to shape “the next generation of crew and talent” in the county.

Economic impact: Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer declared in May that the UK was experiencing a “golden age” of cinema, stressing the importance of investing in filmmaking facilities.

This message was bolstered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s commitment to reform tax relief for film and TV production to a new “expenditure credit” of 34 per cent from January 2024. It’s no wonder, then, that Marlow Film Studios developers have predicted that the project would inject £3.5 billion into the local economy in its first decade.

Studio boom in the UK: There’s a reason that politicians are looking so favourably at film and TV production – although recent SAG-AFRA strikes in Hollywood have put the brakes on the UK’s expanding global industry presence, new studio facilities have been popping up all over the country in recent years – attracting such big-name productions as the Star Wars franchise, The Little Mermaid and the Ariana Grande-led Wicked, due for release in 2024.

Transport upgrades: Although developers’ plans for transport upgrades have been somewhat of a detractive element of the application – with several delays initiated by transport authorities while further assessments took place – a recent report by National Highways found that a proposed upgrade of the Westhorpe Interchange in Marlow could help to offset future traffic build-up.

Proposals for new local bus routes, including between Marlow and Bourne End, have similarly been welcomed and were reportedly envisaged following engagement with Marlow Town Council.

READ MORE: 259 new homes coming to villages despite 300 objections


Traffic concerns: The Buckinghamshire Council’s Highways Authority recommended last month that the Marlow Film Studios planning application not be granted on the basis of “insufficient information” about the development’s impact on highways, traffic and transport in the area.

A VISSIM modelling review cited in the statement indicated that development traffic was likely to impact nearby junctions and increase queuing on one arm of the A4155 Little Marlow roundabout by up to 100 per cent during morning rush hour.

Greenbelt: Local campaign group Save Marlow’s Greenbelt have been among the most vocal voices in opposition to the studio since its proposal and its claims were partly vindicated in a planning officer’s report released ahead of Monday’s meeting.

In their decision to recommend refusal of the application, the officer attributed “very substantial negative weight” to the harm the film studio could have on the Greenbelt. Adding: “The proposed development would result in very substantial spatial and visual harm to the openness of the Greenbelt and in the significant loss of open countryside.”

Wildlife: Another central consideration in the planning officer’s recommendation of refusal was the impact the film studio could have on nearby wildlife. The proposed site is only 750 metres away from a Chiltern Beechwoods Area of Conservation (SAC) which reportedly could be at risk of increased air pollution from construction and operational traffic.

Local voices have also raised concern about the wildlife currently residing on the land near the A404 in Little Marlow, whose natural habitats would be put at risk by the large-scale development.

Impact on locals: Residents living in the Westhorpe area of Little Marlow have described the area as a “peaceful and quiet” part of the town which they feel would be “destroyed” by the neighbouring film studio development, with a “noisy high-security film studio operating 24/7”.

Joy Morrissey MP, who visited the area earlier this month, said: “There are many well-documented planning concerns surrounding this proposal, but we must never forget the human factor of residents who rely on this green open space.”

Buckinghamshire Council’s Strategic Sites Committee will meet at The Oculus building in Aylesbury on Monday, October 23, to make a decision on whether to approve or reject the Marlow Film Studios planning application. A webcast of the meeting will also be available on Buckinghamshire Council’s website.