Concerns over loss of green belt land sink UMC Architects-designed application to add eight new blocks to existing site

Sky Elstree expansion

CGI of the proposed expansion of Sky Studios Elstree

Plans to expand Sky’s new Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire have been refused by the local council.

Hertsmere borough council narrowly voted to reject the 38 acre expansion against the advice of planning officers which had recommended approval ahead of the meeting.

The scheme, designed by UMC Architects for Sky Studios Ltd and Legal and General’s investment arm, would have seen the construction of nearly 72,000 sq m of production space in eight buildings housing 10 new sound stages.

It would also include a multi-storey car park, a services building and a 20,000 sq m backlot for storage and filming.

The project team includes Potter Raper on costs and project management, Hoare Lea on services, fire, lighting and acoustics, Lichfields on planning, Pell Frischmann on transport and Fairhurst as structural and civil engineer. Bradley Murphy Design is landscape architect.

Councillors voted five in favour and six against the application, with concerns over the scheme understood to be largely based on the loss of green land which would result from construction on the currently undeveloped site.

One councillor who voted for the scheme told Building that the economic benefit was “overwhelming” compared to the impact on the greenfield land.

Sky has said it remains committed to expanding the site, adding that the scheme met “very special circumstances” for Green belt building.

The firm argued in planning documents that the expansion would create 2,000 jobs and generate £2bn of production investment over the first five years of operation.

The existing studio’s 14 sound studios have previously hosted production teams working on Wicked, starring Ariana Grande, and Paddington in Peru.

Meanwhile, a separate outline planning application to build industrial space to the south of the studio was unanimously approved at the same council meeting.

The proposals for Sellar Media and Logistics, also designed by UMC Architects, are for the construction of 11,100 sq m of industrial and office space.