A NEW film studio planned for the Pentlands is being tipped to attract more digital and technology firms to the area.
EH20, a business centre in Loanhead which is home to 30 start-ups and small companies, and is marking its tenth anniversary, said the £250 million studio had opened up great opportunities in Midlothian.
The Scottish Government has given its backing for the Pentland Studios, and it is hoped worked will start later this year.
General manager Lorraine Chisholm said: “We are already seeing more digital and tech businesses seeking space at EH20 and we think there is a definite Pentland Studios effect underpinning this.
“At the same time, we like the fact that we’ve got a mix of business sectors in the building, from financial advisers and consultants to satellite offices of larger corporates who like our situation and easy access to the Edinburgh Bypass which is only just over a mile from our front door.”
She added: “We’re also noticing a big uptake in business from Lothian-based entrepreneurs who want working space and meetings rooms nearer to their homes.”
More than 1600 jobs are expected to be created by the Pentland Studios project, which is earmarked for green-belt land at Straiton in Midlothian.
The creation of Scotland’s first purpose-built studio complex, which will include the building of six sound stages up to 70ft tall at the 106-acre site, is expected to provide a huge boost to the country’s ability to attract blockbuster film productions and high-end drama series.
A fully-fledged studio complex has long been seen as crucial to help Scotland compete for film and TV productions with Wales and Northern Ireland, where Doctor Who and Game of Thrones are filmed respectively.
Empty warehouses have had to be pressed into action for the likes of US fantasy drama Outlander, Danny Boyle’s T2 Trainspotting and Avengers: Infinity War.
Other key parts of the Pentland Studios scheme include two Hollywood-style backlots, a 180-room hotel, a 50,000 sq ft creative industries hub, 50,000sq ft of workshop space and a film academy.
Developers behind the project, first announced in August 2014, had appealed to the government to intervene in November 2015 on the grounds of non-determination by the local authority.
Officials were opposed on the grounds that it went against local planning policies, would hamper other planned developments and would blight the environment.
But the ruling from ministers said the anticipated benefits of the scheme outweighed any “potential consequences”, such as the loss of green belt and impact on residents.
The Hollywood film director Joe Russo, who brought the Avengers to Edinburgh, last week warned that Scotland was missing out. Filming for the £400 million Avengers: Infinity War took place around the city during the spring, with the Royal Mile and Waverley Station among the main locations.
Russo said: “We probably would have done a lot more work here in Scotland had there been facilities to support our stage work.”