Plans for a multi-million-pound film studio on Greenbelt land near the A404 in Little Marlow have suffered a setback after planning officers recommended its refusal on environmental and traffic grounds.

The proposal to build Marlow Film Studios on former gravel pits near the A404 Marlow bypass has been subject to relentless scrutiny and contention since it was first put forward in 2021.

In an initial meeting to discuss the project in October 2023, councillors were torn between the supposed economic benefits of the film studio – which developers say would inject £3.5 billion into the economy per decade and create over 4,000 jobs – and its potential for environmental harm.

It’s a debate that has taken several twists and turns since last autumn, including the developers’ unveiling of a £20 million investment into local transport, but, according to a new report by planning officers at Bucks Council, the fundamental issues facing Marlow Film Studios largely remain the same.

Ahead of a confirmed date for the council’s decision on the film studio, Thursday, May 30, officers have laid out the reasons why they think the proposal should be refused – doubling down on a recommendation published before the October meeting, which echoed similar concerns.

Planning officer John Fannon said the application for Marlow Film Studios should be refused because of its “inappropriate development on the Greenbelt”, its conflict with the development of Little Marlow Lakes Country Park and its “severe impact” on local roads.

Other issues highlighted in Mr Fannon’s report were the project’s “detrimental visual, noise and traffic impact” on nearby residents, “inadequate” sustainable travel proposals and “intrusion” on land close to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

He also said the plans “frustrated the delivery of much-needed housing”, putting them at odds with “proper planning and development of the area”.

READ MORE: Local views on Marlow Film Studios revealed in poll

A spokesperson for Save Marlow’s Greenbelt, a campaign group long opposed to the studio project, said: “This report makes it absolutely clear that the many significant harms caused by the development would significantly outweigh its vague and insubstantial benefits.

“It will create traffic chaos, ruin the landscape, destroy the environment and harm the community. It has no merit whatsoever.”

Meanwhile, Joy Morrissey, MP for Marlow and Beaconsfield, was similarly “delighted” at the officer’s renewed objections to the ‘harmful’ development.

Ms Morrissey, who has voiced concern about the film studio on three previous occasions, said: “The planners have set out the compelling case for refusal – that the very special circumstances needed to justify development on the Greenbelt have not been demonstrated. I agree.

“They have set out the very substantial harm to the Greenbelt, to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the landscape character of the area, (as well as) significant harm from traffic.

“(This report) is conclusive and it should be decisive.”

A spokesperson for Marlow Film Studios said: “We note the officer’s report and look forward to discussing this in detail with the Committee on the 30th.”

The Strategic Sites Committee will meet at The Oculus building in Aylesbury at 10am on Thursday, May 30, to discuss the Marlow Film Studios planning application. A webcast of the meeting will be live-streamed on the Buckinghamshire Council website.