A final decision on the Marlow Film Studios planning application is just days away – but with such a long-stretching project of seemingly epic proportions, it’s easy to get bogged down by the details.

We’ve put together a quick guide sheet for your reference asking some of the most common questions we hear about the film studio plans so you know what’s on the discussion board come next Thursday (May 30).

Will it bring money and jobs to the area?

One of the most touted claims by Dido Property Ltd, the company behind Marlow Film Studios is the economic power it will bring to the local economy, reportedly creating 4,000 new jobs and generating £3.5 billion for the area in the next decade.

Its oft-derided proximity to other studios including Pinewood, Leavesden and Shinfield places it within a ‘west London cluster’ that supporters say will be instrumental in boosting the “mighty” 21 per cent contribution of UK-based productions to the global Box Office in the last six years.

The figures don’t necessarily paint a simplistic picture, however. BFI figures show that spending on film and TV in the UK fell by 35 per cent last year, and local campaigners have suggested that, contrary to developer claims, the studio’s workforce could be primarily made up of existing freelancers accustomed to travelling for work.

Despite this, industry heavyweights have flocked to put their support behind the plans in recent weeks, with Titanic director James Cameron and Love Actually director Richard Curtis both praising the Marlow studio’s “convenience” and potential for innovation.

Will it cause more traffic?

One of the ways Dido tried to meet and lessen the concerns put forward by councillors during an initial discussion on the plans in October 2023 was to propose a “future proofing” upgrade of the Westhorpe Roundabout, a vital piece of transport infrastructure close to the development site.

The studio, proposed for land near the A404 Marlow bypass, would unavoidably have an impact on local networks, and even a suggested £20 million investment into roads around the town hasn’t been enough to budge the opinion of Bucks Council’s highways team.

A consultation published last month said the amended traffic measures, designed to offset the site’s impact, would not be enough to prevent a “severe impact” on local roads.

It also threw cold water on suggestions from the developers that a majority of commuters would choose to travel to and from the studio via public transport, which officers said was not an “attractive and convenient” enough alternative to driving.

Why does it matter that it’s on Greenbelt land?

The most important environmental consideration taken by the council next week will be whether the plans can be classed under the “very special circumstances” required for building on Greenbelt land.

The main aim of the Greenbelt is to prevent urban sprawl from towns and cities by providing open space, with development discouraged where possible.

The argument cited by Dido in response would be that the need to capitalise on the UK’s growing prominence in the film industry and do so within a ‘west London cluster’ meets that ‘very special’ qualification.

Are there other environmental issues?

Alongside its Greenbelt status, the studio site is also located on land originally earmarked for the Little Marlow Lakes Country Park, plans for which date back to the 1960s and have yet to be formally realised.

The council spoke in March of its intention to create a park at Spade Oak Lake that could be classed as a ‘suitable alternative natural greenspace’ (SANG), an area designed to absorb the impact of population growth in a similar vein to the Greenbelt.

Concerned parties think that a large-scale building development like Marlow Film Studios would be a clear repudiation of these plans and could impact both the area’s SANG and Greenbelt.

Despite a counter proposal to designate 89-acres of the studio site for wildlife and landscaping as a contribution to the country park, these concerns weighed heavily on the decision of planning officers to recommend the project’s rejection earlier this week.

The Marlow Film Studios application can be viewed on Buckinghamshire Council’s planning portal under reference 22/06443/FULEA.