The expansion of Elstree Studios reached a major milestone this week as work was completed on the outer structures of the two new soundstages.
Contractors RG Carter finished work on the roof and walls of the two soundstages and ancillary workshops, now known as The Platinum Stages. Helping to secure the final bolt in place on the roof of the stages was Mayor of Hertsmere, Cllr Anne Swerling. Also in attendance to mark the moment were the MP for Hertsmere, the Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE; leader of Hertsmere Borough Council and chairman of Elstree Studios board of directors, Cllr Morris Bright MBE; managing director of Hertsmere Borough Council, Sajida Bijle; executive director of Hertsmere Borough Council, Peter Geraghty; acting managing director at Elstree Studios, Chris Denmead and board member of the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, David Conway.
The two new soundstages, which have a combined workable footprint of 34,556 square feet, about half the size of a professional football pitch, and stand at a workable height of 45.6 feet, are designed to meet international space standards in studio design. The facilities, which are clad in innovative timber cassettes, can be used as two separate stages or a combined super-sized one and will provide a state-of-the-art environment for film and television production. Once operational, the stages will create hundreds of new jobs, plus apprenticeship and other learning opportunities for local school leavers and the unemployed.
Cllr Swerling said: “I felt honoured to be asked to help put the finishing touches to the new Platinum Stages at this milestone moment for the project, Elstree Studios and the borough as a whole.
“Standing inside the new stages is quite an awe-inspiring and formidable feeling. I was very much struck by the incredible amount of work that has gone on to get this project so far.
“Thank you to everyone involved for their sterling efforts to make what a year or so ago was a plan on paper, now a reality.”
Councillor Morris Bright MBE, leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, said: “We’re fast moving towards the completion of this exciting and inspirational project – and I’m pleased to say that thanks to the efforts of all our partners, we’re on target to reach the deadline of a spring opening.
“The new Platinum Stages represent not just a major investment for the studios, they represent a token of faith in our borough and the UK’s film and television production industry, as a whole.
“Coupled with the creation of the multi-million pound Sky Studios Elstree down the road, this project reinforces Hertsmere’s status as the number-one home for film and TV production.
“It means that Hertsmere well and truly deserves to be known as ‘British Hollywood’, something we should all feel proud about.”
The £15.6 million project, on the site of the former Big Brother house, has been funded by Hertsmere Borough Council and a £6 million Getting Building Fund investment from the government via Hertfordshire LEP.
Rental income received by the council from the stages will be used to fund local services, though £100,000 has been earmarked for investment into creative industries, including local media and creative enterprise and initiatives.
The name for the stages was selected from more than 400 entries in a two-week national competition held at the end of last year.
Oliver Dowden MP said: “It was a great pleasure to mark a key milestone for Elstree Studios’ new Platinum Stages at their topping out ceremony.”
“These state-of-the-art soundstages will allow the studios to expand its range of hit shows filmed here in Elstree, building on recent successes such as Netflix’s The Crown and Sky Atlantic’s Gangs of London.”
“The expansion of Elstree Studios – completed with a combination of funding from Hertsmere Council and government investment – is further confirmation of Hertsmere’s status as a world-leading hotbed for film and TV production.”
“With construction set to be completed in record time, this is a great example of our local council and national government working together to strengthen our creative industries.”
“I am delighted to see such strong progress on the project and look forward to the opening of the new stages later this year.”
David Conway, chief financial and operations officer at ITN and Hertfordshire LEP board member, said: “As someone who is very familiar with the history, revival and growth of Elstree Studios, it was fantastic to see the progression of the new sound stages alongside the major productions already being filmed here.
“The addition of the stages will further enhance the offering, reputation and lure of the UK’s answer to Hollywood here in Hertfordshire.
“The wider benefits to Hertfordshire’s residents and its economy were also a key factor in the decision to award LEP funding. Hertfordshire already holds a competitive advantage in producing film and TV, which we wanted to help supercharge.”
Paul Hutchinson, director at R G Carter, said: “It was a pleasure to be able to welcome so many key stakeholders and provide a first proper look at this wonderful new building.
“We are extremely proud of our collaborative partnership with Hertsmere Borough Council and Elstree Studios and are looking forward to completing this exciting specialist facility that will not only benefit the growing creative sector, but also provide the local community with fantastic opportunities.”
The £900m Getting Building Fund was announced in August 2020 to deliver jobs, skills and infrastructure across the country. It supports the delivery of shovel-ready infrastructure projects, selected by Local Enterprise Partnerships and Mayoral Combined Authorities and endorsed by the Housing Secretary, to fuel local recovery and kickstart economic growth amidst the pandemic.