More blockbuster movies will be made in Scotland after plans to build a £250 million film studio on the outskirts of Edinburgh were given the go-ahead.
Ministers overturned a recommendation from a government reporter that Scotland’s first purpose-built studios at Pentland should be thrown out.
Work could begin this year on the 106-acre complex on greenbelt land at Straiton in Midlothian. It will include six sound 70 ft high stages.
It will provide facilities for a range of dramas from television series to Hollywood films and build on Edinburgh’s appeal as a location.
It has been used for a series of recent big productions from the TV drama The Secret Agent to Danny Boyle’s T2 Trainspotting, and filming is currently under way on Avengers: Infinity War which has used a disused warehouse in Leith.
The Pentland Studios scheme will include a 180-room hotel, a 50,000 sq ft creative industries hub and a film academy. It is expected to employ 1,600 people.
Opposition to the scheme led to a 2,700-signature petition and the government reporter said the studio would cause “significant adverse effects on the character of the local landscape and on the visual amenity of those who live, work and travel nearby.”
But government ministers said the benefits of the scheme outweighed any potential consequences, such as the loss of green belt, and the impact on neighbouring residents and the roads network.
A statement from developers Pentland Studios Limited said: “We’re very pleased with the decision by ministers to approve planning permission in principle for Scotland’s world-class film and TV studio complex, and we will be moving forward immediately with the application for planning permission in detail.
“Working together with Midlothian Council, we hope this next stage will be expedited accordingly, recovering the construction scheduling that will enable delivery of the key studio operation by late 2018.”
Rosie Ellison, manager of the Film Edinburgh commission, said: “This is wonderful news and absolutely the right decision.
“It’s a game-changer that promises to lead to the much needed purpose-built infrastructure that will attract more high-value, high-profile film and TV productions to Scotland, creating hundreds of jobs and opportunities and opening up south-east Scotland as a filming destination.
“We’ve shown we have the will, we may soon have the way.’