Planning team recommends Bray Studios upgrade for approval

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

The council is set to discuss the application to expand by Bray Film Studios at a committee on Monday (November 8).

The studios submitted a planning application to expand its existing site in August – including five new sound stages, on top of the two permanent and two temporary studios already there.

The expansion would also include four workshops, a rehearsal building, backlot and other production support buildings, totalling around 30,000sqm of floor space.

It would incorporate Water Oakley Farm next door, which was set to be developed for housing.

There are plans for 750 parking spaces and 174 cycle parking spaces, as well as provision of a shuttle bus to and from Maidenhead railway station.

Bray Studios also proposes building a roundabout and to widen the access point to the site, improving traffic flow.

Soft landscaping forms a ‘major part’ of the proposal – particularly planting greenery to screen the expanded studios from view.

The project is supported by a number of bodies, including the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for International Trade, The Production Guild of Great Britain and Windsor College – all of which are interested in the boost to the film industry offered by the expansion.

Bray Parish Council recommended permitting the development in a meeting in September by a narrow margin.

Looking at site plans, parish councillors calculated that the new builds would create a 38 per cent increase in built area from the temporary structures currently there.

Some of the concerns raised were around the large buildings – 18m in some cases. Previous development has already disturbed a nearby business owner significantly.

However, others in the area have voiced support, including Oakley Green, Fifield and District Community Association (OGAFCA).

A June consultation by the studios returned 65 responses, 60 of which were broadly supportive, though many highlighted concerns around increases in traffic on the A308.

Some historic buildings will be affected by the development – including Down Place, Toad Hall and Clock Tower House, which are all Grade-II listed.

Because the development is on the greenbelt the proposals must show very special circumstances justifying it, which council officers believe it has.

In a report, officers wrote that there was ‘substantial weight’ to the economic benefit. Because of this, they have recommended the plans for approval.

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