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Marlow Studio Project - Proposal to build on 165 acres of Green Belt land
at Little Marlow Lakes Country Park.
As a guide, this is 3 times the size of Globe Park ( 53 acres ).
The promotional material for the project is available at www.marlow.film. This describes the land in terms of the historic use of part of it, quarrying and then landfill. It is important to clarify that this land is a long established nature habitat.
A resident of Westhorpe Park said:
"I have seen more wildlife since I have lived here than in the 30 years before"
Westhorpe Park will be surrounded by the proposed development.
Some other observations and views can be found at:
The promotional material assesses that the development will create "5000 new jobs...". Some questions this may raise are: Would it's location have more benefit in an area with high unemployment? Maybe where previous industry has left brownfield sites that would benefit from such development. In the proposed location, what impact will the increased traffic have in an area already challenged with traffic congestion and poor air quailty?
Please let The Marlow Society have your views on the proposal:
or, if you prefer, use the secure contact form.
When you contact us, please start with 'Marlow Studio Project' . It will also be useful, if you could include whether you live in the Marlow area, or visit the area, or drive on the roads effected as a through route, or live elsewhere in the UK.
The following is Martin Blunkell's overview, published in the Marlow Society Autumn 2021 newsletter:
Marlow Studio Project
In the local press and in exhibitions the property company Dido is extolling the advantages of building a film studio on green belt land to the east of the A404 Marlow bypass and opposite the garden centre.
The Society's planning group takes an interest in all planning applications as well as the County's strategic plans and special planning guidance. We were heavily involved in the drafting of the Wycombe District Local Plan 2019. This provides the planning policy framework for day to day planning decisions until 2033 to help deliver sustainable development and ensure that our communities are sustainable in environmental, economic and social terms.
The Local plan gives Marlow a high degree of protection by clearly recognising much of the surrounding land as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and/or green belt. It notes that any future development in these areas would have to show 'very special circumstances' in justification. The stated policy of our County Council is to 'Cherish the Chilterns'.
Dido has engaged the company Soundings to make a creative consultation with Marlovians and to seek their opinions on the Dido proposals. This will eventually demonstrate local engagement in the preparation of a planning application.
We are well informed on the past history of the proposed site and the reasons it was designated as part of the Little Marlow Lakes Country Park. We have supported the role of this land in preventing urban sprawl from embracing Little Marlow and Well End. We recognise the contribution the whole area makes to ecological diversity in offsetting the density of the housing and commercial development to the south east of Marlow.
Change is inevitable. The Local Plan designates land for new housing and industrial development, a government requirement. Employment is required to match new housing development. In our county this is focussed on expansion in Princes Risborough and the adjacent Vale of Aylesbury, not in Marlow.
Major plus points postulated by Dido include the creation of 5000 jobs and the enlargement of the national film industry capability. Five thousand people is one third of the population of Marlow. We understand that most employees in the industry are self employed and commute daily to site - as we learnt during the Star Wars filming at Little Marlow. They commuted in their cars; not an acceptable long term policy. We are yet to discern the commercial and social benefit such a scheme would bring to Marlow and our local area. Dido’s suggestions of employment and training opportunities have so far been vague and lacking in substance.
MFS land and Globe Park, indicative - image: Open Street Map
Envisage the Globe Park and Thames Industrial Park in Marlow. This covers approximately 53 acres. The studio plan covers 165 acres. We have asked which alternative sites have been surveyed. The answer is none. DIDO owns this land and clearly wishes to gain the maximum benefit from it. In the longer term there would be no way of preventing a multinational company buying the studio and seeking further expansion.
The proponents anticipate a planning application being submitted in February/March 2022. The Society will surely comment comprehensively on it. We anticipate the arguments in favour will focus on national economic gain and employment. The counter argument will inevitably focus on the sustaining of the green belt. Ultimately it will be a Secretary of State decision.
Your Executive Committee would like to hear your opinions on this issue because of the exceptional scale of the development. Please have a look at the plan for an indication of the footprint.