Hollywood heads to Hertfordshire with £700m Sunset Studios film and TV development plans announced

Artist impression of the proposed Sunset Studios development in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.

Artist impression of the proposed Sunset Studios development in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. - Credit: Business Wire

Plans for a £700million "world-class" film and TV studios for Hertfordshire have been revealed, bringing a slice of Hollywood to the county.

Blackstone and Hudson Pacific Properties have announce plans to create a major centre for film, TV and digital production in the borough of Broxbourne, close to M25 Junction 25.

The state-of-the-art facilities on land to the west of Waltham Cross will be the partners’ first expansion of their Sunset Studios platform outside of the United States.

Artist impression of the proposed Sunset Studios development in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.

Artist impression of the proposed Sunset Studios development in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. - Credit: Business Wire

Notable productions that have been filmed at Sunset Studios in America include When Harry Met Sally, Karate Kid, Zoolander, La La Land, Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Hannah Montana.

Funds managed by Blackstone Real Estate Partners and Los Angeles-based studio owner and operator Hudson Pacific have acquired a 91-acre site, through a joint venture for £120 million.

The acquisition, with an expected total investment of over £700 million, would transform the land into one of the largest world-class film and television studio campuses.

This comes as the new Sky Studios Elstree complex takes shape off the A1 in Borehamwood, and the nearby Hertsmere Borough Council-owned Elstree Studios expands with two new sound stages. 

Developers are also looking to construct Hertswood Studios between Rowley Lane and the A1 in the borough of Hertsmere.

Hertfordshire is also home to Warner Bros Studios Leavesden where the Harry Potter movies were made, with the county the British Hollywood.

Subject to planning permission, the proposed new development is expected to create over 4,500 permanent jobs for Broxbourne and the surrounding area, and contribute more than £300 million annually into the local economy.

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Councillor Lewis Cocking, leader of Broxbourne Borough Council, said: “This represents a fantastic opportunity for the people of our borough.

"Creative industries are of strategic importance to us and the creation of over 4,500 permanent new jobs and the associated boost to the local economy is just what we need following the pandemic.

"We look forward to working with Blackstone and Hudson Pacific to help deliver significant positive change in Broxbourne.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the Broxbourne studios plans as the country bounces back from the pandemic. 

He said: “This investment is excellent news for the UK’s film and TV industry, pumping hundreds of millions of pounds into the local economy and creating thousands of jobs for the people of Hertfordshire.

"The creative industries are at the heart of our plans to build back better. This will be a hub for both UK and international productions, showcasing home-grown talent on the global stage.”

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, is MP for the nearby borough of Hertsmere, which includes Elstree Studios and Sky Studios Elstree. 

Mr Dowden said: “This new studio is yet another vote of confidence in the UK’s booming film and TV industry.

"Through the British Film Commission, we’re supporting the development of stage spaces like this across the UK – boosting the local economy and backing our world-class creatives to make the next Bond blockbuster or bingeworthy box set.”

Together, Blackstone and Hudson Pacific own a media portfolio that totals 3.5 million square feet, including 35 active sound stages and on-site creative offices. 

Sunset Studios' screen hits include When Harry Met Sally and the Oscar-winning La La Land.

James Seppala, head of Blackstone Real Estate Europe, said: “We are excited to expand our partnership with Hudson Pacific into the UK, and intend to deliver a world-class studio facility that will help ensure that the UK continues to be a premier destination for content production globally.

"This is a continuation of our thematic investment focus and long-term conviction in media, entertainment and content creation.”

Victor Coleman, chairman and CEO of Hudson Pacific, added: “We are thrilled to expand our Sunset Studios platform in the UK, a global hub for film and television production.

"With our expertise developing and operating state-of-the-art media campuses and Blackstone’s resources and existing market presence, we are confident this facility will be in high demand from leading content creators.

"We look forward to working with Broxbourne Council to ensure the project has a meaningful positive impact on the local community.”

The new studio plans have also been welcomed by Visit Herts, which is currently developing the county's screen tourism strategy.

Chief executive Deirdre Wells of Go To Places, which manages Visit Hertfordshire, said: “We are just thrilled to hear about these plans for a new world class film and TV studios in Hertfordshire.

"They will be a fantastic addition to the studios at Elstree and Leavesden and with Sky also investing in their facilities in Hertsmere – this corner of the country is shaping up to be England’s answer to Hollywood!"

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