Film Studio Plan Failure Would Disappoint Sector, MSPs Told

30 March 2017, 13:35

movie projector

Failure to deliver on plans for a flagship film studio in Scotland would be greatly disappointing to the sector, a Holyrood committee has been told.

MSPs heard frustration is growing over slow progress towards establishing the facility.

Development of the Pentland Studio just outside Edinburgh has been stalled by the planning process.

The proposal was ''called in'' by the Scottish Government after Midlothian Council failed to make a ruling on the application, which was originally submitted in 2014.

Ministers are yet to announce their verdict.

Appearing at the Culture Committee, John McCormick, chair of the Screen Sector Leadership Group, said the studio was considered to be an ''essential development'' for the sector.

''There would be great disappointment if that didn't come to pass,'' he said.

''There is an expectation across the industry but it has got to meet the planning objectives and people are just waiting for the decision, and again it's been delayed beyond the time they were expecting it.''

Mr McCormick said the leadership group, set up to improve links between creative industries and public bodies, had hoped a decision would have been made before it published its report in January.

Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw said: ''It seems to me from the representations from industry figures that the whole Pentlands project which is kind of mired in planning hell ... is becoming something of a symbolic totem pole for the industry as to whether or not we are going to see the energy put into a facility which will give Scotland the opportunity to compete for many of these productions.''

Ken Hay, chief executive officer of Moving Image (CMI) and a member of the leadership group, agreed the studio was ''totemic'', adding there was ''huge frustration that everything seems to take so long to not make very much progress''.

He said: ''When you're going out to international marketplaces trying to sell Scotland as a viable vibrant production hub that is worth coming to film in, you can see fantastic locations, but what we don't have is that large-scale studio facility which would facilitate further inward production activity.

''We're trying to sell ourselves as a production base but, with our ankles tied, it's quite a hard one to do.''

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