Bentwaters film studio recommended for approval on Monday in boost for Suffolk’s growing screen industry
PUBLISHED: 19:39 29 October 2017 | UPDATED: 19:43 29 October 2017
Suffolk’s ambition to become the most “film friendly county in the UK” is expected to take major strides forward on Monday when planners are recommended to approve a new studio complex.
Bentwaters Parks wants to use 12 acres of the former USAF base, near Woodbridge, to cater for the needs of Suffolk’s expanding screen industry, including films, TV, adverts and music videos.
It would see a main studio built south of the runway, providing 34,000 sq ft of space, while nine old military buildings would be converted for associated uses.
Economists believe the scheme can capitalise on the UK’s thriving film sector, which is worth billions of pounds a year, and say Suffolk is ideally placed to play a top role.
Recognising the opportunities, councils agreed to launch Screen Suffolk last year, the county’s official film office, offering a “one-stop” service promoting the various creative talents and unique locations to make it the UK’s “most film-friendly county”.
Research in 2015 identified strengths in Suffolk’s offer to the film industry, including its ample space for set building, unique locations, and links with London.
Suffolk already features regularly in cinemas and TV, with more than 80 days of filming held in the county during the first half of 2017 Recent productions include the BBC’s Detectorists, shot around Framlingham, A Child in Time, which includes scenes in Shingle Street and Springwatch, which visited RSPB Minsmere two years running.
In May, rumours surfaced that Jurassic World 2 was filming at Rock Barracks, near Woodbridge.
The new film studio is hoped to encourage further growth in the creative sector. A recent study noted a “strong cultural base” with opportunities to develop Bentwaters Parks as a creative hub alongside Aldeburgh Music, High Tide and Latitude festival.
The only major concerns came from Eyke Parish Council, which warned traffic would have a detrimental impact on the village and surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Suffolk Coastal District Council’s report for Monday’s planning committee meeting noted the concerns but said the local highways authority was satisfied with the proposals.
“The proposed development would provide an interesting employment addition to the existing mix of business uses located at Bentwaters Park,” the report concludes.