Pinewood's £200m plan to rival Hollywood scuppered


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The Independent Culture

Pinewood's dream to bring the mean streets of New York and the Paris boulevards to the Buckinghamshire countryside has collapsed after the Government blocked the studio's development plans. Filmmakers were yesterday left bewildered as the decision came just a week after the Prime Minister announced his backing for the industry.

The studio, where the James Bond films were shot, had planned to build a complex on the 105 acres that adjoin its site. It would have offered 1,400 homes for those working on films, and permanent locations from 17 cities around the world for shooting movies.

An industry insider said: "This is a complete shock after last week's noise from the Government about supporting the creative industries." The project had been supported by Alien director Ridley Scott, film producer Lord Puttnam, Sir Martin Sorrell and Lord Lloyd Webber.

The £200m project on land the studio owns was derailed yesterday as Eric Pickles, Communities and Local Government Minister, refused to grant planning permission for Project Pinewood.

The decision letter refers to protection of the landscape: "The loss of openness would not only be visually apparent, but would all but destroy the concept of the site as part of open Green Belt land."

The studio said that should the project have gone ahead, it would have contributed £3.8bn to the economy over the next 30 years and created almost 1,000 jobs in the next decade.

A spokesman for the local government department said: "Just because the Prime Minister may think it is a good idea, you can't get round the law."