Lights. Camera. Action… Studio proposals go in for planning

BLOCKBUSTER plans that could transform the North East economy have taken a step forward, with proposals to build a major film studio in Sunderland now in for planning consent.

FulwellCain - a joint venture between global entertainment company Fulwell 73 and Cain International - and Sunderland City Council are spearheading a bid to gain approval that will pave the way for a £450m film studio on the banks of the River Wear.

The application, which has been submitted to the local authority’s planning committee, sets out specific plans for phase one of the studios, with two further phases also submitted for outline consent. In all, the development will deliver a 1.68m sq ft film industry hub at Pallion with 20 premium sound stages suitable for major feature film and HETV productions, if the plan is supported to get over the line by UK Government.

This represents the most significant step forward to date for Crown Works Studios, which will be one of Europe’s largest facilities, bringing 8,450 jobs.

If planning consent is granted when it goes before the local authority’s committee in March 2024, all local permissions will be in place to progress with the scheme, with the spotlight turning to national Government to get behind the proposals if they are to become a reality.

The studios could generate £334m for the local economy every year, creating jobs and contract opportunities spanning a vast range of disciplines including the trades and manual skills. The impact will be felt across the region, and align well with Government commitments made in the spring to spur on the development of the UK’s creative industries.

This represents an important step forward for the city, underlining our commitment to a scheme that will be just about the most ambitious catalyst for economic development seen for decades in the North East. “It requires support, and that’s clear, but – as a council, working with FulwellCain – we have absolutely thrown our weight behind this to ensure everything is lined up to make it a reality. We have done everything in our gift to demonstrate our determination to see Crown Works Studios delivered.”
Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Graeme Miller

If planning consent is granted, and with Government backing, spades could be in the ground as soon as 2024 on the huge studios, with the final phase set to complete by 2027.

Crown Works – named after the former shipyard that once stood on the site - will be transformational for the city’s economy, cultivating an eco-system on a scale not seen since Nissan’s investment in Sunderland in the 1980s, while meeting the growing demand for studio space in the UK.

Sunderland City Council has shown its commitment to our plans with this application, and we have demonstrated ours too, with everything lined up and ready to go should we gain approval and get the support we need from Government. “This is a transformational plan that will reinvigorate not only the city and region’s economy, but will represent a shot in the arm for the UK’s creative industries and we are determined to do everything we can to ensure the impact of the studios are fully understood and supported.
Leo Pearlman, managing partner at Fulwell 73

Crown Works Studios will include provision for production workshops and office space, a vendor village for supply chain businesses, administrative and social facilities, a multi-storey car park and an extensive backlot.

Strong partnerships are being established to ensure that Sunderland reaps maximum advantage from the opportunity – from the job creation it will bring to the economic prosperity it could generate through increased footfall and spend in the heart of the city. These relationships will be key in delivering the skills needed to power the studio and grow a sustainable film and media ecosystem.

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