Residents in the Marlow Town parish had their say on a controversial multi-million-pound film studio proposed for Greenbelt land near the town in a local poll held yesterday (May 9).

The poll, which was voted for by parish members at a meeting in April, put the following two questions to Marlow Town Council’s electorate:

  1. Do you wish Marlow Film Studios to be built?
  2. Do you want development on the Greenbelt on the scale proposed by the Marlow Film Studio?

Of the 11,000-strong electorate, just over 2,000 people turned out to vote, with 1,730 voting against the first question compared to 302 voting in favour.

A similar 1,741 said they did not want to see development on the Greenbelt on the scale proposed by the studio, while 267 responded in the affirmative.

It means 85 per cent of those who voted said they did not wish Marlow Film Studios to be built, while 86 per cent of those who answered the second question said they did not want to see a development of the studio's scale on Greenbelt land.

However, voter turnout for the poll was low, at just 18 per cent – likely due in part to the specific allocation of polling stations to electoral numbers and no option of postal or proxy vote.

Robert Laycock, CEO of the proposed development, said the low turnout did “not suggest a high level of public opposition” to the plans, and pointed to a poll commissioned by the studio which indicated that 78 per cent of 500 respondents, 152 of whom lived within five miles of the site, were in support of the project.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Marlow Film Studios

He added: “Alongside the polling numbers, published on the local government planning portal are around 5,000 letters of support for the details published in the planning application, against around 3,00 in opposition.

“This is an unprecedented level of local support for a proposal of this type (and) is largely explained by enthusiastic support for the area’s global leadership in the film and television sector.”

However, Joy Morrissey, the Conservative MP for Marlow and Beaconsfield, took a less rosy view of yesterday’s polling results.

Ms Morrissey, who has lodged three separate objections against the film studio plans, said: “For over 2000 residents to vote in such a small five-hour voting window, with no postal votes available, shows that this is an important issue for the local community.

“85 per cent of those residents voting to say they do not want the development to go ahead is a decisive message.

“I have been steadfast in my opposition to the Marlow Film Studios from the outset. It is a highly inappropriate development with a weak and worsening economic case that will destroy Greenbelt land and bring traffic chaos to Marlow.

“It is now important that individual residents lodge their views directly to the council planning team.”

A decision on the film studio is expected to be made by Buckinghamshire Council's Strategic Sites Committee on Thursday, May 30.

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