A HUGE new film studio set to attract blockbuster Hollywood productions to the Lothians will spark a jobs boom, business leaders have said.
The £250 million Pentland Studios scheme has finally been given the go-ahead by the Scottish Government – after it overturned the advice of its own planning experts.
Around 1,600 jobs have been promised by the developers behind the studio complex, which will boast six sound stages and is expected to provide a huge boost to efforts to attract blockbuster film productions and TV drama series.
Pentland Studios Limited hopes to be open for business by the end of next year, once detailed permission is approved by Midlothian Council.
It comes as filming for the new Avengers movie – starring Robert Downey Jr, Samuel L Jackson and Scarlett Johansson – takes place in the Capital.
Gordon Henderson, senior development manager with the Federation of Small Businesses, said he expected to see specialist firms move to the Lothians to take advantage of new opportunities.
He said: “These studios will encourage specialist small businesses which supply the film and television industries to locate nearby if they are encouraged to do so from the outset and the route to tendering for work is a straightforward one.
“The planned creative industries hub on the site at Straiton makes a great deal of sense and will encourage collaboration with the region’s colleges and universities.
“Not only is the decision to allow the construction of the studios good news for the Edinburgh economy, but this site is in Midlothian, so it is vital that the economy team at Midlothian Council ensure the studios form part of their strategic plan going forward to maximise the jobs and economic benefit for the area.”
However, environmental campaigners have warned that communities across the country should be fearful after ministers snubbed planning advice.
Activists who have spent two years opposing the scheme, which is earmarked for part of Midlothian’s green belt, say they are “devastated” after ministers ignored a recommendation to reject the project.
The government’s own report on the Pentland Studios project said the studio would also cause “significant adverse effects on the character of the local landscape and on the visual amenity of those who live, work and travel nearby”.
The Protect Damhead’s Greenbelt campaign says it threatens to force out a tenant farmer whose family has been working on the land for more than a century.
The green light for the project, against the recommendation of reporter David Bullya, has echoes of the government’s intervention to approve Donald Trump’s golf course in Aberdeenshire after it was refused by councillors.
A spokeswoman for Protect Damhead’s Greenbelt said: “Our community is devastated. Communities across Scotland should be worried about the roll-out of such an approach to people, place and land.”