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One growth sector which was singled out for favourable treatment in the Spring Budget, and which offers good opportunities for new construction work, is film & television production studios.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a 40% relief on business rates for eligible film studios up to 2034 along with a tax credit for UK independent films budgeted at under £15 million.

The tax breaks will help the film & tv sector as it faces up to the prospect of cuts by major US streaming services and fewer commissions from public sector broadcasters. They should also bolster the construction work pipeline as series of new studio projects and expansions take shape around the country.

As the chancellor noted, film studio space in the UK has doubled in the last three years and at the current rate of expansion, the UK will be second only to Hollywood globally by the end of 2025.

Studio expansions

The forward construction workload in the sector received a major boost last autumn when Warner Brothers confirmed that it is going ahead with a major expansion of its studios at Leavesden near Watford. The project will involve ten new sound stages and over 37,000 sq m of production and support space to increase filming capacity. Construction work on the scheme, which is at the pre-tender stage and is due to start this coming June, will run for 37 months (Project ID: 22119046).

Another major project in the pipeline which will now go ahead is the huge Crown Works Studios complex in Sunderland where the chancellor pledged funding in the Budget which will unlock £120 million for the project through a new devolution deal.

Detailed plans have been submitted for Crown Works Studios which has a total value of £397 million and involves some 518,000 sqm of space across 20 sound stages along with production buildings and workshops. Work on the scheme, which is at the pre-tender stage, is to be undertaken in phases and is pencilled in to start at the end of this year (Project ID: 23063401).

Other major schemes in the pipeline in the sector include the £257.5 million Marlow Film Studios scheme involving over 156,000 sq m of space in Bucks. Detailed plans have been submitted and the county council’s strategic sites committee is due to deliver a verdict soon (Project ID: 21328661).

Potential for contracts

Glenigan data highlights various other significant film & tv studios in the pipeline which offer potential for new construction contracts across the country.

In Liverpool, a £70 million refurbishment project of a former Littlewoods building to create film studios and new sound stages alongside office space is at the pre-tender stage. Work on the conversion, involving more than 25,000 sq m of space for client Capital & Centric, is set to start this coming autumn and run for two years (Project ID: 16011514).

Meanwhile detailed plans have been submitted for Sky Studios Elstree North at Borehamwood in Herts, involving a £118 million film and tv production studio. Work on the scheme involving a floor area of nearly 72,000 sq m could get underway early next year (Project ID: 22236253).

Smaller studio schemes are also set to get underway. In Windsor, detailed plans have been granted and work is set to start this summer on a £15 million redevelopment project at Bray Studios in the town to create new film & tv studios across a 22,000 sq m floor area. Bucks-based Farmglade is the main contractor on the project, which is set to run for eight months (Project ID: 15252326).

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