Major Film & TV Studio for Scotland Planning Application Submitted

Tuesday May 5th 2015

Pentland Film Studios

PSL Land Ltd (PSLL) confirmed today that an application has been lodged for planning permission in principle for the unique mixed-use Studio development site at Straiton, near Edinburgh, with Midlothian Council. The 86 acre site will host a world-class film and television production facility incorporating six sound stages, an external water-stage, two backlots, workshops and production office spaces. Complementing the core Studio campus will be a film academy and student residence, a visitor attraction and hotel. A data centre and satellite-link ‘earth station’, parking areas and an innovative CHP energy centre will support the future-proofed complex.

Jim O’Donnell, PSLL Development Director said: “We look forward to creating a world-class facility to complement Scotland’s existing studio spaces and stunning locations. Situated on the outskirts of one of Europe’s greatest cities, the proposed studio will place broadcast, indigenous and international film production needs at the forefront, whilst retaining the character and integrity of the local area and its natural beauty.”

The studio design team is led by award-winning multi-disciplinary architectural practice Keppie Design. Centred around a landscaped oasis, the 50,000 sq ft reception building will provide a creative hub for resident production companies, staff and visiting crew with a studio commissary offering stunning views of the Pentland Hills across a landscaped glen.

Creating a production facility of national importance that will also target the international market, six state-of-the-art sound stages offer a range of options with two at 15,000 sq ft, two at 30,000 sq ft and two at 20,000 sq ft. The two largest stages will reach a height of 70 feet, with the remaining four stages measuring 50 feet each. With clientele to include independent and major studio productions for both film and television, the six stages will also provide production opportunities for the advertising and games industries, as well as rehearsal space for theatre and music companies. Each sound stage will be enveloped by facilities space, allowing production personnel to be in the immediate vicinity of the shooting stages. An additional 55,000 sq ft of workshops will provide prep and post production areas for the creative departments.

Complementing the varied interior shooting options and benefitting from a location away from any aircraft flight path is a 45,000 sq ft exterior ‘paddock’ water-stage for filming. Two backlots of 8.6 acres and 20.14 acres respectively allow for significant production set-builds and space with a unique backdrop.

Promising to be the UK’s only purpose-built studio in recent decades, the new build can ensure important elements for future-proofing, avoiding compromises for production, and utilising innovative uses of space; and is anticipated to attain a BREEAM® ‘excellent’ rating.

Recognising the natural synergy with a working studio, PSLL are discussing the optimum requirements for a first-class educational facility for practical production skills with established educators. An integral part of the studio complex and investing in the future skills-base will be an associated film academy which will comprise of a 28,000 sq ft teaching pavilion and 33,000 sq ft of student residence. Echoing a similar synergy with educational elements, a visitor attraction is also proposed over a 23,000 sq ft area, inviting the general public to experience the working dynamic of a world-class production facility.

Alan Seddon, Keppie Design Divisional Director, Architecture commented: “Film and television play an important role in people’s lives, but for most of us their production is such a remote activity, both physically and emotionally. That a project like this should be coming to Scotland is amazing and we at Keppie feel genuinely privileged to have been involved in getting it to this stage. Now that we have achieved such a significant milestone, we have our sights firmly set on the next stage and are looking forward to delivering the studio itself.”

Expanding general access to the development, an on-site hotel property is also proposed to further the commitment of inward investment and employment generation for the area. Welcoming both studio guests and outside clientele, the planned 180 bed hotel will include a swimming pool and gymnasium as elements of a health spa.

Crucial infrastructure for the mixed-use development site are the supporting data and energy centres, together with a satellite-link ‘earth station’. The 75,000 sq ft data centre will house essential secure cloud-based file storage systems and the dedicated 100MW gas-fired Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant will significantly contribute to the Studios’ energy efficiency. The satellite-link ‘earth station’ will provide a highly developed satellite up-link, enabling productions to securely transfer or transmit rushes, clips or entire programmes for editing and viewing purposes around the globe.

Continuing detailed conversations with a range of partners and potential users of the various spaces and elements that comprise the mixed-use site, PSLL have reserved 11.95 acres for future employment land. Providing options for further development once the initial phase of the complex has been completed, this space protects the primary Studio investment, precluding any future residential development by external parties.

Situated approximately four miles south of the Scottish Capital city-centre, the proposed studio location is ideally placed for road access to the A720 city-bypass; Edinburgh’s international airport is 9 miles away via the bypass, with Glasgow a 50-minute drive to the west along the M8. Public transport links supply both Edinburgh and Glasgow with the development providing parking to accommodate permanent personnel alongside visiting Studio Productions.

PSLL Chairman, Douglas McGhee said, “We are very pleased to have progressed the project to this next stage, and thank all members of the public and industry who contributed to the public consultation process. With extensive research and design talent behind the project, we hope this application will be recognised not only as a significant asset for Midlothian, but also for Scotland, the film, television and creative industries across the globe.”

The above was taken from the Pentland Studios press release. What are your thoughts on this development? Good thing, employment and an attraction to the area or a bad thing, further erosion of green belt and further impact on Midlothian’s stretched infrastructure?

Have your say below.

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One response to “Major Film & TV Studio for Scotland Planning Application Submitted”

  1. John Barton says:

    I find it quite alarming that despite all the objections and petitions that have been forwarded to the planning authorities regarding the lack of infrastructure relating to the housing requirements contained in the Midlothian Local Development Plan, we then find proposals such as this being pursued.
    Like all Developers, Mr O’Donnell describes the views which will be available from the proposed studio as “stunning”, ignoring the fact that the view will be obliterated for the people who ” enjoy it at the moment”. Developers involved with the above proposals realise that it is easier and cheaper to connect to the existing infrastructure. How much more of the Green Belt do we have to sacrifice for their greed!
    The A720 is a nightmare as we all know and can hardly suffice the traffic flow as it exists. Someone in higher authority has to waken up and realise that enough is enough, I believe we have a Transport Minister in Government !
    I have no doubt that a lot of people will be enamoured with the proposal, giving it lots of support, but I have to say that I can think of other places to site it. Unfortunately, with regards to the required services, it would be much more expensive.
    Under the circumstances it certainly wont get my vote of confidence.