Film studio decision delayed until after election

Friday March 4th 2016

The decision on the film studios at Straiton has been deferred until after the Scottish Election.

The developer has appealed to the Scottish Government due to Midlothian Council’s planning committee not deciding on the application within the statutory period of 4 months. This is referred to as non-determination.

The Council’s planning department have issued a report to the committee recommending rejection of the application.

On top of this government ministers have decided that as the project is of national importance they will determine it’s fate rather than leave the decision to the Scottish Reporter as is usual.

The developers of the £850 million St James shopping centre project have also appealed to the government to reject the application as they say it will undermine their project due to the retail element contained in the film studio application.

A government spokesman has now said it is “extremely unlikely” that the hearing will take place before May.

The spokesman said: “The exchanges of written submissions with regard to this appeal are continuing and the reporter is waiting further comments from parties in response to matters raised by Scottish Natural Heritage.

“With that in mind, it is extremely unlikely that the pre-election period will have any impact on this appeal.”

Scottish Greens’ spokesperson on Culture, Zara Kitson has urged the Scottish Government to make progress on the development of a Scottish Film Studio.

Reacting to the latest news of a delay to the decision Ms Kitson said:

“It is hugely frustrating that once again the decision on a Scottish Film Studio is being deferred. The Scottish Government appears to lack the will to explore obvious workable alternatives to the film studio location.

“Scotland can have a thriving film industry, using our vast range of specialist skills and stunning locations. However, at the moment, we can only cater for elements of the film production process – not the full end to end.”

Midlothian Green Councillor Ian Baxter has argued that locating the film studio near the new Shawfair development would not just be an alternative, but also a much better option:

“Shawfair has all the infrastructure links, location and surrounding amenities to accommodate a world-class film production studio.

“An added bonus will be the pool of young creative talent on the doorstep. The local Shawfair School has been designated a centre of excellence for creative industries and Queen Margaret University is walking distance away.

“This means we have joined up thinking where we train young people and show them the career path – just a short distance away.”

Midlothian SNP councillor Kelly Parry told Midlothian View “Given the particular nature of the site any application seeking approval would need to meet council policies and be exceptionally strong, the application that went before the planning committee today did not fulfil that.”

“I wholeheartedly support the principle of the film studio and the economic benefits that would bring – but not at any cost.”

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