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Pinewood's plans to build replica cities thrown out


Plans by Pinewood film studios to build replicas of Paris, New York and Amsterdam on Green Belt land have been turned down.

Project Pinewood, which has been rejected by an inspector from the Department for Communities and Local Government, would have seen the creation of a "purpose-built" film set with 1,400 permanent homes inside the streetscape buildings.

The decision represents a triumph for local campaigners who have fiercely opposed the plans for Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, since they were first announced in 2007.

The verdict sent shares of Pinewood's parent company, Pinewood Shepperton, which is majority owned by Salford Quays property group Peel, down by 4%.

In a statement today, Pinewood said it was disappointed and will "take time to review the decision in detail".

The verdict comes in the week Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted producers to get more help to generate "commercially successful" independent pictures which are not bankrolled by Hollywood.

The project would reportedly have cost £200 million and created almost 1,000 jobs in the next 10 years, with 420 affordable homes offered inside the film sets.

Other cities which were set to be replicated included Czech capital Prague and Venice, with plans for a Screen Crafts Academy also included in the proposal.

However, it was rejected by South Buckinghamshire District Council in 2009 before a public inquiry by the Planning Inspectorate in April 2010.

Planning inspector Ava Wood said the proposal would "significantly alter the landscape character and appearance of the area to its detriment" and therefore constitute an "inappropriate development in the Green Belt".

She also reported that little weight could be given to Pinewood's claims about the number of jobs the project would be able to deliver.

The Stop Project Pinewood campaign claimed the scheme would take "not just a nibble but a huge great bite out of a precious local and national resource".

Pinewood Studios has been operating for more than 70 years, hosting Bond films including The Spy Who Loved Me, A View To A Kill and, more recently, Quantum Of Solace.

Its studios have also been used for blockbusters Mamma Mia! and Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time.