Sunderland TV and film studios to get government funding

A major TV and film studio complex is to be built in Sunderland after the government confirmed a devolution package for the north east of England.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a “trailblazer” deal, which will eventually unlock up to £120m towards the development of Crown Works Studios.

Fulwell Cain – a joint venture between Fulwell 73 and Cain International – said it has raised £450m in private investment to pay for its construction.

About 8,500 jobs are expected to be created by the development.

Crown Works Studios, which Sunderland City Council leader Graeme Miller described as “game-changing” for the region, will be built on a former shipyard sites and will be ready by 2027, if planning permission is approved later this month.

Ministers had been asked to provide up to £20m a year, for up to 10 years – decreasing each year as the studio turns a profit – to incentivise filmmakers to travel from across the UK and use the site.

Leo Pearlman, managing partner at Fulwell 73, previously warned Wednesday’s budget was the “cut-off” for securing funding for the project.

Following the devolution announcement, Mr Pearlman said:

“Crown Works Studios will help transform the city we love into a global hub for big budget film and TV production.

“Our screen industries are world-leading – and with this backing, the UK, with the North East in its arsenal, can grow its capacity for the production of film and high-end TV.

“At the centre of our plan is a pioneering training strategy that will transform lives and create new opportunities throughout the North East, kick starting a creative revolution that enables the region to play a leading role in our most exciting sector.”

Labour councillor Mr Miller added it would

“bring about benefits for generations to come”.

“We have worked hand in glove with Fulwell 73, the government and our regional partners to ensure that this scheme – which is game-changing for the whole of the North East – will move from vision to reality.”

The investment in the studio was backed by those working in the UK’s film industry, including the British Film Institute (BFI).

Chief executive Ben Roberts said:

“There is so much talent and untapped opportunity across the country so we welcome this positive news today for the North East and the progress of Crown Works Studios which has the potential to transform the region, creating jobs and supporting business.”

Alison Gwynn, chief executive of screen agency North East Screen, added:

“The studios will provide the infrastructure we really need to continue the trajectory attracting major big-budget features and, in the process, creating thousands more opportunities for the people and businesses of the North East.”

The devolution deal is expected to include:

  • A £25m investment to support the development of the Riverside Sunderland site
  • £10m to “accelerate progress on a Health Innovation Zone” in Newcastle
  • The creation of a coastal and rural taskforce
  • £58m of funding for the maintenance and renewal of the Tyne and Wear Metro system over the next two years
  • A single funding pot for housing and regeneration
  • A new rail board to develop plans to improve train services
  • From 2026, North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) will be able to set the overall strategic direction of the region’s Affordable Housing Programme, in partnership with Homes England

Source: BBC News

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