New film studio to be built on old Suffolk air base

A CGI-image showing how the film studio complex would look at the former Bentwaters air base. Pictur

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

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.

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 yesterday'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.

Suffolk has already established itself as a desirable location

for the screen industry, with its own dedicated film office launched with funding from local councils.

Steven Bainbridge, speaking on behalf of the applicants at yesterday's 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'.

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

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.'