UK: Dagenham Studios gets the greenlight

The facility is set to be the largest in London, sitting on a 22-acre site  

By Nia Daniels 7 Jul 2020

UK: Dagenham Studios gets the greenlight
Artist's impression via London Borough of Barking and Dagenham/BeFirst

Dagenham Studios – set to be the largest film facility in London – looks set to go ahead after unanimous planning approval was granted at a Barking and Dagenham council meeting last night (6 July). 

Councillor Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council (LBBD) tweeted the news, saying: "Thumbs up for £110million proposals Dagenham film studios unanimously agreed by LBBD last night…

“…It will mean thousands of jobs, educational opportunities and a bright future for local people. Where once Dagenham was known for Ford and factories, we will be making films.”

The 22-acre, former Sanofi site will comprise: one sound stage of 140,000 sq ft and five of 22, 000 sq ft; accommodation for production offices, hair and make-up or dressing rooms;  conversion of two existing buildings into workshops for set construction and auxiliary activity; pre and post-production space with room for other creative businesses. 

It is estimated that 1200 jobs will be created in the studios and associated supply chain, with sustainability measures including green roofs. 

Rodwell described the decision as ‘momentous’. He added: “This is a huge decision for the borough. It gives the green light to what will be London’s largest film studios, so it’s a major milestone in the renewal of a part of London badly hit by de-industrialisation and austerity.

“The new Dagenham studios sit alongside one of the largest data centres in the UK and the UCL’s innovative PEARL project, and there are also plans to relocate the City of London’s wholesale markets to a site nearby. This will mean thousands of jobs and educational opportunities for local people.

“So, where once Dagenham was known for Ford’s and factories, we will be making films and a new bright new future for our borough and its residents.”

The Council’s planning committee agreed the reasons for approval and delegated to grant planning permission subject to any direction from the Mayor of London and the completion of a Unilateral Undertaking under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Be First, on behalf of the council, is in discussions with potential interested parties to determine whether to secure a joint venture agreement, a land sale or for Be First to build the studios and lease the site to an interested party.

Pat Hayes, managing director of Be First, said: “We’ve had a great deal of interest in the site and with planning permission secured the interest will intensify.  With the ever growing demand for studio space in the UK, we’re in a very good position to take this project forward.”

Adrian Wootton OBE, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: "I am delighted to see Dagenham studios get the green light. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK screen industries were enjoying an exceptional boom time and we’re committed to driving the sector’s recovery. 

“Following our publication of the UK’s British Film Commission production guidance, as we get back to work safely and production starts shooting again, I am confident that we shall return to that level of growth, and exceed it, in coming years.

“So, it’s crucial we continue to develop our world-class infrastructure. This cutting-edge proposal will further bolster London's studio offer, supporting economic growth and creating new jobs. It’s important for Dagenham, it’s compelling for London and it’s a significant addition to the UK’s world-leading film and TV sector.”

The original backer in place to develop the site, Pacifica Ventures, pulled out around nine months ago over Brexit concerns. 

Image via BeFirst.  

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