(revised October 2021)
In December 2019, Comcast (the owners of Sky TV and Universal Pictures) made the surprising announcement that they were planning to build a large film studio centre in Borehamwood. The site is at the eastern end of Elstree Way, between Rowley Lane and the A1, a few dozen metres from where the old MGM film studios were located. Some of the land was at that time a lorry park.
So, just to be clear – these studios are in Borehamwood, not Elstree, but the owners decided to call them ‘Sky Studios Elstree.’
The proposed site (indicated above) is 32 acres and will contain 13 sound stages – one at 30,000 sq ft, two at 25,000 sq ft, eight at 20,000 sq ft and two at 10,000 sq ft. Some stages will be able to be combined to create an area of 60,000 sq ft or reduced to become smaller spaces. There will also be 2 large support buildings containing workshops, stores, production offices, wardrobe facilities etc and parking for 1,200 cars. The land is owned by Legal and General, who are also part-funding the project. A back lot has also been mentioned in some reports but there is no indication where this might be on the published planning application documents. Possibly the fields to the north?
The studios will be home to Sky originals, as well as films from Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Working Title, and TV series from Universal Studio Group. Other companies will be able to hire the facilities too when space is available. Sky currently spend £7bn per year on production in Europe (including football rights) and they plan to invest £3bn in new production at the site over 5 years.
Planning permission has not been granted for studio audiences to use these facilities so they will not be used for multicamera TV entertainment shows. These stages are purely intended for high-end TV drama and feature films.
As an interesting aside – most of the Bond films have been made at Pinewood. However, those studios are now fully booked by Disney. No Time To Die was distributed by Universal Pictures so it seems possible that Bond 26 could be filmed here in Borehamwood. You heard it here first!
Planning permission was granted in July 2020 and work was well under way throughout 2021. The first stage is due to be available from April 2022 with the rest following throughout the year.