Large Bray Studios expansion set to go ahead

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

Bray Studios’ planned expansion is set to go ahead – with approval granted by the Royal Borough on Monday.

In August, the film studio in Bray parish applied to add five new sound stages (to bring the total to nine), four workshops, a rehearsal building, a backlot and other production support buildings to its site.

To support staff, proposals include 750 parking spaces, 174 cycle parking spaces and a shuttle to and from Maidenhead station.

There are also plans for a new roundabout turning onto the site to help with traffic flow.

The Studios estimate a £1billion production spend over the next decade, much of which will be spent locally.

The council agreed by a majority to approve the expansion in a special meeting of the Maidenhead development management committee on Monday evening - in line with officer recommendations.

In a presentation, Tim Chapman, major projects planner (contractor) at council, outlined the plans, including tree planting and landscaping designed to ‘soften the view’ and break up the mass of the buildings on the site.

This follows concerns raised by residents and Bray Parish Council about the proposed height of some of the buildings – around 18m in some cases – and visual impact of current studios and structures.

One key issue raised by multiple members of the panel was the trade-off for housing in favour of the studio expansion.

Building the studios means that alternative plans to build homes on the site would not come to fruition, effecting the borough’s five-year housing supply.

Cllr Leo Walters (Con, Bray) indicated that this could be considered a plus for people concerned by excessive home-building on the greenbelt.

Other councillors raised concerns over the ‘diminishing green gap’ between Maidenhead and Windsor that would be caused by further building on the site.

Another consideration was traffic. It is expected that the expansion would increase traffic on the A308 – the impacts of which, in light of the delays in the A308 corridor study, are difficult to predict.

Chair of the committee, Cllr Phil Haseler (Con, Cox Green), said that, while all developments will have an impact on traffic, there was ‘no technical evidence’ that the Bray Studios’ expansion would have an ‘unacceptable’ impact.

At the end of the meeting, panel members voted seven votes to two in favour of the expansion. Cllrs Joshua Reynolds (Lib Dem, Furze Platt) and Mandy Brar (Lib Dem, Bisham and Cookham) voted against.

They cited concerns over current existing pressures on the area (Thames Hospice and Summerleaze gravel extraction) and impacts on wildlife and biodiversity.

In a statement after the result of the meeting, Linda Teare, director of Bray Film Studios, said:

“We’re in a great position to respond to the demand for studio space and support Britain’s creative industries.

“It’s wonderful to be reviving this historic studio and preserving a part of Britain’s rich film history.”

Fellow director Elaine Sargent said:

“It is an exciting chapter in the resurrection of Bray Film Studios.”

“We look forward to championing the next generation of film makers and reclaiming Bray Film Studios’ position amongst the ranks of the great British Film Studios.”

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