Ex-marine power building touted as new film studio

The Pelamis site at Leith. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The Pelamis site at Leith. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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ONCE it held the hopes of the pioneers of wave power. Now it could be the venue for the latest movie escapades of stars like Daniel Craig.

The Pelamis building on the waterfront in Leith is being touted as a potential base for film and television production.

Leith is the perfect place and Pelamis is the perfect spot to make this happen”

DEIDRE BROCK

It has been listed by arts agency Creative Scotland as a venue where studio space could be built by movie-makers following Scotland’s success as a location for films like the last-but-one James Bond blockbuster Skyfall.

Marine power firm Pelamis had to call in administrators in November 2014 after failing to secure vital development 
funding.

The 15,000sq metre building, previously the VA Tech factory owned by Siemens, was earmarked a decade ago to house the £100 million Anthony d’Offfay collection of modern art – including works by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst – acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland.

Architect RMJM, which worked with Enric Miralles on the Scottish Parliament building, was commissioned to design the proposed gallery complex, which would also have housed the Scottish National Photography Centre and host exhibitions, concerts and award ceremonies.

But plans for the venue, dubbed “the big blue shed” by critics and hailed by supporters as Scotland’s answer to London’s Tate Modern or Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum, were shelved as too ambitious.

Creative Scotland director of film Natalie Usher listed it along with others as an existing building which could be converted for a studio and film production base.

Earlier this week the Scottish Government threw its weight behind a multi-million-pound bid to create the country’s first permanent film studio in Cumbernauld. A warehouse complex currently used as a temporary base for the hit American TV show Outlander will now be retained and expanded.

Meanwhile, developers say they have potential investors lined up for a project to build permanent studios in greenbelt land in Midlothian. The £150 million Pentland Studios scheme is being proposed by a consortium led by former Ealing Studios director Jeremy Pelzer and former Warner Bros development manager Jim O’Donnell. It would be built on 86 acres of land near the Ikea store at Straiton.

Edinburgh North and Leith SNP MP Deidre Brock gave her backing to the idea of converting the Pelamis building.

She said: “From Outlander to Skyfall, there’s been a massive rise in filming in Scotland recently. We have top-notch locations, top-notch talent and now we need to expand the permanent studio facilities to back it up. Leith is the perfect place and Pelamis is the perfect spot to make this happen.

“The Pelamis building is a generous space in the centre of Leith’s vibrant creative hub. There’s all the facilities of the Capital on your doorstep, together with easy access to some of the finest locations in the land, whether urban grit or iconic landmarks are what’s required.

“Film and TV productions are not just direct job creators, they showcase Scotland to the world, driving growth in tourism and other sectors. The Pelamis building was once home to world-leading innovation in wave energy – a film studio would be a fitting way to re-appropriate these facilities.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com