£250m plan to build 'Highland Hollywood'

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The Independent Online

The quiet village of Aberuthven could be transformed into a Highland Hollywood under plans to build a £250m national film studio for Scotland in Perthshire.

A consortium of businessmen have presented proposals to redevelop 800 acres of farmland to create a complex intended to rival the best America can offer. The Scottish Film Studio Partnership has lodged a blueprint of its plans with Perth and Kinross Council and hopes to apply for outline planning permission by December.

The project would include a multisound stage, the largest external water tank in Europe, an extensive back lot with silent stage facilities, a hotel, an 18-hole golf course and a film museum. "The objective is a world-class development capable of attracting major international film makers while, at the same time, providing a vital resource to the indigenous Scottish film and media industry," Toni Antoniou, a spokesman for the partnership, said yesterday.

The complex is predicted to create about 1,000 long-term jobs and a wealth of temporary employment during its four-year construction. "The idea is to provide Scotland with a unique state-of-the-art filming facility which has the capability of handling everything from small productions to big-budget movies," Mr Antoniou explained.

There have been a number of plans to create a central studio for the Scottish film industry, the most high-profile of which was backed by Sir Sean Connery and Sony. It was abandoned after Edinburgh City Council said there would have to be a public inquiry into the effects on greenbelt policy.

Denis Munro, Perth and Kinross Council's planning director, confirmed it had been working with the partnership to bring the project to fruition. "From the details we have seen so far, this is likely to be the largest single planning application ever to come before the council," he said.