THERE has been a warm welcome for plans for a new film studio on the outskirts of Newport with hopes that the project will have knock-on benefits for the city.
The Welsh Government yesterday announced it is investing £30 million in a 180,000 sq ft facility at the former Energy Centre at Wentloog, between Newport and Cardiff, in partnership with the world-famous Pinewood Studios.
It will be the first UK venture outside of Pinewood and Shepperton for the company, which has played host to more than 1,500 films including the James Bond franchise, Gravity and Harry Potter.
Ministers yesterday said Pinewood Studios Wales is set to support up to 2,000 jobs over five years, generating £90 million for Welsh firms.
William Graham, Tory South Wales East AM, said he had “long realised the potential of an international film studios in this area” and had suggested it for the former LG buildings.
“This is welcome news for Newport. It offers employment opportunities initially with construction, but sustained jobs in servicing the studio complex,” he said.
Jessica Morden, Labour MP for Newport East, said: “Hopefully they will look to Newport to use some of the local talent we have coming through the film courses at the city campus.”
Hannah Raybould, faculty of creative Industries at the University of South Wales, said the creation of the studio near to the university’s Newport Film School “is going to provide excellent opportunities to retain film-making talent in Wales”.
Newport council leader Bob Bright said: “It will be fantastic to have such a company with its worldwide reputation right on our doorstep and it could act as a magnet to attract other major businesses to the area.”
John Griffiths, Labour AM for Newport East, said the news was a “major boost to Newport” given it’s within the city’s travel to work area.
Dame Rosemary Butler, Newport West AM and Assembly presiding officer, said: “We have got an incredibly talented workforce around here that will be able to fill all these jobs.”
Newport-born actor Michael Sheen added: “This appears to be great news for Wales and a logical next step building upon the huge success of the revitalised Welsh entertainment industry.”
Newport politicians and others welcome studio plan
WALES’ first minister said attracting Pinewood Studios offers is a priceless opportunity to promote the nation as a world class location for film and TV. Carwyn Jones, business minister Edwina Hart and Pinewood Shepperton plc chief executive Ivan Dunleavy made the announcement of the new studios at a press conference yesterday.
Business minister Edwina Hart said the Welsh Government was providing £30 million equity funding for the project. “We wouldn’t want you to think we’re giving money away,” she said. “It’s a genuine partnership arrangement,” she said.
Mr Jones said: “This high profile investment is of significant economic value to Wales and offers a priceless opportunity to promote Wales as a world class location for film and television production.”
Pinewood’s Mr Dunleavy yesterday toured the site with Ms Hart.
He said: “The wonderful thing about the film and television industries is that no matter what your skills, be it artistic, creative, craft or technical, there is an opportunity and a job for you.”
Mr Dunleavy suggested the skills already in Wales in the sector was a major attraction for the firm, and said the company would like to be at work at Wentloog now if it could.
The chief executive said the fit out of the building will be put in over the course of the next few months to a year, with stages being created for high-end TV and film work.
He said the Welsh Government’s equity stake was an “important factor” but indicated it wasn’t the decisive one