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Green light for green screen - new film studio to be built at Bentwaters

PUBLISHED: 21:03 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 21:03 30 October 2017

Detectorists was filmed in Suffolk. Picture: MATT TILLER

Detectorists was filmed in Suffolk. Picture: MATT TILLER

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Suffolk is set to take a leading role in the UK's fast growing screen industry after ambitious proposals for a new film studio were given the green light.

A CGI-image showing how the film studio complex would look at the former Bentwaters air base. Picture: JEFF COPPARDA CGI-image showing how the film studio complex would look at the former Bentwaters air base. Picture: JEFF COPPARD

Bentwaters Parks said it was keen to start building as soon as possible after its application to develop 12 acres of the former USAF base, near Woodbridge, received unanimous support at today’s Suffolk Coastal planning meeting.

The new development will see a main studio built to provide 34,000 sq ft of space for filming of blockbuster movies, television shows, music videos and more, while nine old military buildings will be converted for associated uses.

It was announced in 1993 that Bentwaters, built in 1942 and taken over by the US Air Force in 1952, would be closing.

Suffolk has already established itself as a desirable location for the screen industry, with its own dedicated film office – Suffolk Screen – launched with funding from local councils.

Bentwaters owner Sarah Brown (right) with Screen Suffolk director Karen Everett at the Screen Suffolk launch in LondonBentwaters owner Sarah Brown (right) with Screen Suffolk director Karen Everett at the Screen Suffolk launch in London

Suffolk has already attracted several well known productions, such as the BBC’s Detectorists, filmed around Framlingham, and A Child in Time, some of which was shot in Shingle Street.

Steven Bainbridge, speaking on behalf of the applicants at the meeting, said the new studios had been conceived out of this aspiration. He said the site had been selected because of its “inherent suitability and burgeoning creative hub”.

When quizzed about how Suffolk could take the “lion share” of the growing screen industries market, Mr Bainbridge said that as the second tallest studios in the country it had all the necessary infrastructure “and even a few unique extras”.

Sarah Brown, from Bentwaters Parks, told committee members she was also “passionate” about using the studios to give young people opportunities in the industry.

Bentwaters has a Cold War Museum - pictured here one of the exhibits, the newly restored A-10 Thunderbolt II, which went on public display in September. Picture: SIMON PARKER/BCWMBentwaters has a Cold War Museum - pictured here one of the exhibits, the newly restored A-10 Thunderbolt II, which went on public display in September. Picture: SIMON PARKER/BCWM

Planning chairman Debbie McCallum praised the applicants for bringing “one of the most exciting projects to come to Suffolk Coastal in years”. Council leader Ray Herring said the proposals offered an “excellent opportunity to bring high quality employment”.

The only concerns had been raised by Eyke Parish Council about traffic volumes. Several committee members also suggested the development should be supported by better infrastructure, in discussions with Suffolk County Council.

Speaking after the meeting, Mrs Brown said it was “exciting” to have been given the approval and she was keen to get building.

“Now it’s about following through and making sure we get it right – which I’m sure we will,” she added. “With recent developments, it is the perfect time to do it.”

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