Plans for Sunderland’s new £450m film studios have been green lit by the council, following support for the development in the recent budget and celebrated by the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in his visit to Sunderland last week and in this video.

Detailed plans for the first phase of Crown Works Studios – a major filmmaking hub that will stand on the banks of the River Wear – have been approved by the city council’s planning committee, paving the way for construction to start this summer.

Outline proposals for two further phases of the huge development have also been rubber stamped, marking the final milestone in local approvals needed for the 1.68m sq ft film hub at Pallion to be built.

The studios are being delivered by FulwellCain – a joint venture between global entertainment company Fulwell 73 and Cain International – and, with the backing of Sunderland City Council, the plans have the support of the new North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA), subject to a business case, which will use trailblazer funding allocated by the Government to make the vision a reality. In all, the deal secured a package of support amounting to £120m.

The studios will be one of the largest in Europe, boasting 20 premium sound stages suitable for major feature film and high-end TV (HETV) productions. A planning application was submitted to the local authority last year, with detailed CGIs showing attractive contemporary studio spaces, as well as provision for production workshops and office space, a vendor village for supply chain businesses, administrative and social facilities, multi-storey car parks and an extensive backlot.

When complete, it is expected that the studios will generate £336m (GVA) for the local economy every year.

Leo Pearlman, managing partner at Fulwell 73, said: “This is a huge moment for Sunderland, the North East and the UK – unlocking untapped potential to further build our world-leading screen industries. Crown Works Studios will deliver thousands of jobs at all levels – creating economic growth and new opportunities for people living across the North East today. Building these studios will kick-start the creation of an entire production ecosystem – ensuring the benefits are felt far and wide – throughout the North East, and beyond the creative sector.

“We wanted this for Sunderland because not only do we have long established ties to the city that we love, but we know the screen industries need all that the North East has to offer from locations to skilled crew and crucially, more space. What has been utterly astonishing to see is the outpouring of support and well-wishes from the amazing people of Sunderland and the North East, who have absolutely backed us at every stage. Now, with planning consent granted, we can repay that belief and deliver on our promises, creating so much opportunity for this special part of the world.”

Chief executive of Sunderland City Council, Patrick Melia, said: “The level of ambition and the pace of change we are driving in Sunderland is unmatched in the UK, with developments transforming the place for our residents bringing jobs and prosperity in the process.

“I couldn’t be happier to see the film studio plans advancing. It will be brilliant to see the first phase take shape, and to watch local people benefit from the opportunities Crown Works will bring during construction as well as when it opens its doors.”



Pippa Considine

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