Sky Studios Elstree Receives Planning Approval
Sky Studios Elstree, the UK’s new state-of-the-art film and TV studio, has received the green light to proceed with construction works following a unanimous decision last night by Hertsmere Borough Council.
The development represents a significant investment in the UK and European creative economy and will be made with the backing of Sky’s owner Comcast and in partnership with sister-company NBCUniversal. Legal & General will be financing and developing the scheme, which is located in the borough of Hertsmere, north of London.
Work to clear the site ready for construction begins this month and will commence with strict safety and social distancing guidelines.
Over the first five years of operation, it is expected that Sky Studios Elstree will generate up to an additional £3 billion of production investment in the UK’s creative economy from Sky, NBCUniversal and other producers.
The final design for Sky Studios Elstree sees 12 sound stages on site, with the ability to merge together and sub-divide multiple sound stages simultaneously, providing flexibility and scalability to accommodate productions of all sizes.
This means that the biggest sound stages on site can now increase to cover 60,000 sqft if needed, or reduce to much smaller segregated studios, simultaneously providing Sky Studios and NBCUniversal a COVID-19-ready set up for the future. The production facilities and digital suites on site will also be set up to facilitate remote working.
Once operational, the scheme will provide much needed space for the ongoing boom in film and TV production in the UK – attracting the European and international creative community to do their best work in Britain. The total area of the site will cover the equivalent of 17 football pitches.
Sky Studios Elstree will become home to a host of Sky Originals, created by Sky Studios, as well as major film productions from Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Working Title, and television series from Universal Studio Group. It will also have capacity to host productions from third party producers.
The construction phase of the build will contribute £230 million to UK GDP in the period 2020 – 2021.
Sky Studios Elstree will lead to the creation of over 2,000 jobs in the local area, including 900 during the construction phase and 1,500 once the studio is operational. The full-time roles will include a significant number of production jobs alongside roles supporting the running of the studio’s operations. More broadly, thousands of additional new jobs will be supported in the national supply chain each year, with Sky Studios Elstree helping to fuel the local economy across Hertsmere.
Sky Studios is also committed to supporting the next generation of young and diverse creative talent and will use Sky Studios Elstree to build on its existing work in this area which includes Sky Academy Studios and Mama Youth Project, an initiative that equips young people, aged between 18-25 years of age from under-represented groups, with the necessary skills to work in the TV industry.
In line with Sky’s commitment to become Net Zero Carbon by 2030, and matching Legal & General’s drive to deliver major ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) projects, it is expected that Sky Studios Elstree will become the most sustainable film and TV production site in the world when it opens in 2022.
As part of the design process, the businesses have actively looked at all sustainable development opportunities, with the project set to use reduced embodied carbon in construction. It is expected that Sky Studios Elstree will have the capability to generate 20% of its own energy on site through solar energy. No gas or fossil fuels will be used to power day-to-day operations and Sky will also harvest rainwater for use on site.
Sky Studios will not allow any single-use plastics in Sky operations and has planned for how cast and crew will use the studio on a day-to-day basis, including green spaces and landscaping across the site.
In 2006, Sky became the first carbon-neutral media company in the world and Sky Studios Elstree will become a key cornerstone of the company’s ambition to become Net Zero Carbon within a decade.
Secretary of State for Culture and MP for Hertsmere, Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP, said: “The film and TV industry plays a vital role in the UK’s economy, with its programming keeping us informed, entertained and connected over the past few months. Sky Studios Elstree will become home to the best-loved films and TV shows of the future, championing British creativity on the global stage. It will also bring investment, jobs and opportunities to people across Hertsmere - cementing Elstree & Borehamwood’s reputation as ‘The British Hollywood’.”
Cllr. Morris Bright MBE, Leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, said: “We have a long and illustrious reputation for film and television production in our borough. This exciting development means the creative industries will continue to thrive in Hertsmere.
“For local people, it means not just jobs – potentially 2,000 roles being created – but a major injection of skills and expertise, which we hope to harness through educational and training opportunities. And Sky Studios Elstree’s huge production spend will provide a massive boost to the local economy such as retail and leisure sectors and professional services at the heart of our communities in Hertsmere.
“Above all, this is a moment of huge pride for our residents and businesses. With the council-owned Elstree Studios, nearby BBC Elstree and now Sky Studios Elstree, this really does mean the return of the British Hollywood to our borough.”
Caroline Cooper, Chief Financial Officer, Sky Studios, said: “Even during challenging economic times, Sky Studios Elstree represents Sky’s continued commitment to the UK’s cultural economy, as well as our goal to recruit, train and develop the leading creative talent of tomorrow.
“Alongside our colleagues at NBCUniversal and our partners at Legal & General, we will create a world-leading production studio that will turbocharge Sky Studios’ plans to create even more award-winning Sky Originals for our customers.
“We would like to thank Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden MP, Cllr. Morris Bright MBE and Hertsmere Borough Council for supporting the project, providing useful guidance and feedback to ensure the project further boosts the local economy and celebrates the best of British and international creativity.”
Nigel Wilson, CEO, Legal & General, said: “This is a critical investment for the UK’s bounce back. Landmark construction projects are rocket fuel for the economy and investing in our creative industries has never been more important. As a global leader, Sky attracts and retains the best talent, continuing to bolster the UK’s entertainment sector whilst driving job creation and economic growth. At Legal & General, we back our pension promises by using society’s capital for society’s benefit. This is a perfect match for our Inclusive Capitalism strategy.”
Helen Parker, EVP of Universal Pictures Content Group, NBCUniversal said: “After years of producing great content in London, NBCUniversal is excited to have Sky Studios Elstree, our own production destination for our film and television studios - including Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Working Title, and Universal Studio Group - where we can fully embrace all that the flourishing UK creative industry offers. We look forward to continued collaboration with our colleagues at Sky Studios.”