Maidenhead film studio that could house Netflix faces backlash

VILLAGERS have unleashed an “avalanche” of objections over controversial film and TV studio plans that could be used by major companies such as Disney or Netflix.

Moans, groans, and sighs were heard at a packed-out extraordinary Bray Parish Council meeting on Friday, January 20, as councillors and residents discussed Greystoke Land’s plans.

The investment company wants to build sound stages, workshops, offices, footpaths, a multi-storey car park, a ‘backlot’ filming area, a new roundabout, and a ‘media village’ for post-production on the 43.15 hectare green belt site in Gay’s Lane, Holyport.

It also wants to earmark nearly 17 hectares of that land for nature with a public park and a cricket ground.

Slough Observer: The layout of the proposed film and TV studioThe layout of the proposed film and TV studio (Image: Greystoke Land)

But since the outline plans were submitted last month for Royal Borough planning officers to consider access to the site only, about 110 objections have been submitted, urging for planning officers to refuse the scheme.

Speaking at the extraordinary meeting, Cllr Leo Walters (Con: Bray), who moved to Holyport in 1965, said he’s never seen such an “avalanche” of objections to a single application before.

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Slough Observer: A packed room of angry Holyport villagers who vehemently oppose the controversial film and TV studio plansA packed room of angry Holyport villagers who vehemently oppose the controversial film and TV studio plans (Image: James Bagley)

Residents spoke of grave concern over the increased 1,000 car movements and 80 heavy goods vehicle movements to the site, citing the nearby roads, such as Forest Green Road, as already “dangerous”.

Holyport resident and police officer Hannah Wheeler said: “[The application] doesn’t fit with the government levelling up plan. There are already five studios nearby [Bray, Pinewood, etc] and there are already been augmented and built up.

“This isn’t levelling up; it’s piling up and it does not need to be here at all. It makes no economic sense.”

Slough Observer: Holyport ward councillor David Coppinger speaking at the extraordinary meetingHolyport ward councillor David Coppinger speaking at the extraordinary meeting (Image: James Bagley)

Cllr David Coppinger (Con: Bray) said “it’s so wrong” to develop the film and TV studio on the green belt unnecessarily when the council already has a borough local plan that already meets its housing and economic needs until 2033.

Oliver Ralton from Greystoke Land said they need this space to meet the growing need for film and TV studios, which is expected to continue to grow in the UK.

Mr Ralton also said it is particularly growing in the South East region due to its connections with London and Heathrow Airport.

Because of the economic benefits the proposed application will supposedly have and the proposed landscaping works, it outweighs the impact of the openness of the green belt, he insisted.

Slough Observer: Oliver Ralton from Greystoke Land speaking at the extraordinary meetingOliver Ralton from Greystoke Land speaking at the extraordinary meeting (Image: James Bagley)

Mr Ralton also stressed the local benefits, such as the nature reserve, new footpaths, and the local jobs and apprenticeships it will create.

He said: “I appreciate that it is difficult for local people to feel that they are benefiting from these nationally significant schemes but in terms of the benefits that we hope to provide locally, on top of the national benefits that we are contributing and the technical work that we have done, we have worked as hard as possible that the adverse impacts are mitigated as much as possible.”

Mr Ralton hinted major companies like Disney, Netflix, or Amazon could use the studio but could not reveal further details due to confidentiality.

Slough Observer: CGI of what the studios could look likeCGI of what the studios could look like (Image: Greystoke Land)

But residents slammed the proposal as “nonsense” and believe there are plenty of industrious brownfield sites elsewhere that the developer can go to.

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One local said: “You put it [film and TV studio] right in the middle of a rural area where you have no interest in the traffic situation.”

Bray parish councillors voted to submit an objection to the council and urge planning officers to refuse the scheme.

The outline plans will most likely be decided by councillors sitting on the Maidenhead development management panel.

Cllr Walters sits on that panel and stressed he will be considering the application with an open mind. He added: “I can’t see it going through, I must admit”.

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