Application due this week
New film studio plans ‘an important milestone’
An application to North Lanarkshire Council is expected this week to significantly enhance the production facilities at Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld to create a TV and film studio with six sound stages, production offices, ancillary spaces and a back lot.
Already comprising 48,000 square feet across four sound stages, Wardpark has been used for the production of the first and second series of Sony’s historical drama Outlander (pictured).
Plans to expand the facilities to provide an additional 30,000 square feet across two new 50 foot-high sound stages have been the subject of detailed negotiations between its owners Wardpark Studios Limited and the Film Studio Delivery Group (FSDG), comprising the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Creative Scotland.
Negotiations around public sector support for the commercial venture, which must comply with strict EU competition rules, are now at an advanced stage. Film producer Willy Wand, whose latest films include the remake of Whisky Galore, said it should be privately funded and that the facility needs to cater for a wide range and scale of productions.
The FSDG also confirmed that conversations are under way with potential private sector investors in relation to additional studio sites in Scotland, and the group remains keen to hear new proposals.
Three new funds totalling £4.75 million were introduced in 2015, building on the record £24.1m of public funds awarded to support the screen sector in 2014/15.
This week Creative Scotland confirmed it has made its first conditional offers from the new £1.75m Production Growth Fund. Totalling more than £800,000, these offers will support two productions to film in Scotland. A third application to the Production Growth Fund is currently under consideration.
A new Screen Sector Leadership Group has also been established and Skills Development Scotland recently published a Skills Investment Plan for Scotland’s creative industries.
Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Wardpark Studios Limited’s decision to seek planning consent for new studio facilities in Cumbernauld marks an important milestone in our work to strengthen the Scottish screen sector.
“Our work to ensure additional screen infrastructure is developed in Scotland and the new funds we have set up, are helping us to build on this growth – incentivising filmmakers from around the world to come and realise their projects in Scotland.”
Natalie Usher, Creative Scotland’s director of screen, said: “In order to support local productions and attract UK and international productions, Scotland needs a full range of options for stage space and production offices: purpose-built studio facilities; full-time conversions such as the space currently used by Outlander at Wardpark; and build space like The Pyramids in Bathgate, and the Pelamis Building in Leith.
“Converted and build space in Scotland that is currently being marketed compares favourably with similar space marketed by other UK nations, but we also need purpose-built space in order to compete effectively. We are working through the FSDG to realise a purpose-built studio facility in addition to the existing full time converted space at Wardpark. We continue to investigate other potential options where there is interest from the market and appetite from private investors.”
David Smith, director of creative industries at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Wardpark Studios’ plans remain at a critical stage of consideration but I believe their decision to apply for planning consent to increase the size and scale of the existing facilities in Cumbernauld illustrates their long-term commitment to operate world-class studio facilities in Scotland.
“We remain absolutely committed to doing whatever we can within EU competition rules to ensure additional screen infrastructure is developed in Scotland.”
Terry Thomson, chairman of Wardpark Studios Limited, added: “We want to enhance the existing four sound stages with a further two stages to expand and grow productions using the facility.
“With each production using the site, the benefits to the local and national economy are increased, reaching far beyond simply the studio and deep into the supply chain.
“Lighting and rigging suppliers, local builders’ merchants, landscaping suppliers, transport suppliers and many others provide the products and services that ensure these global productions can be made right here in Scotland.
“Our planning application seeks to make the most of the existing facilities and land available. While we’ve reached agreement in principle with Scottish Enterprise and the Film Studio Delivery Group on possible financial support, there remain a few commercial details still to be finalised before we can move ahead with our plans.”