Deputy mayor backs plan for 'London's largest film studios' in Dagenham

London's deputy mayor for planning has backed a borough's decision to approve plans for a new film studio complex on a derelict industrial site in the east of the capital, after he concluded that concerns over urban greening and transport had been addressed.

A visualisation of the finished scheme (Pic: Andrew Baker)
A visualisation of the finished scheme (Pic: Andrew Baker)

Earlier this week, Jule Pipe advised that he was content to allow the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham to grant consent for the Dagenham Studios development in the east London borough.

According to a Greater London Authority (GLA) statement, the project would be "the capital’s largest film studios".

Be First, a regeneration delivery vehicle owned by Barking and Dagenham Council, submitted the full planning application for the redevelopment of a 7.5-hectare area of the London East Business and Technical Park in March.

The council resolved to approve the application at a meeting in July, subject to any direction from the mayor of London.

A GLA planning report, published last week, advised that concerns raised by GLA planners over the development's Urban Greening Factor (UGF) score had been addressed. Urban greening relates to elements of developments such as green roofs and walls.

The report advised that the scheme's UGF score had been increased by the applicant from 0.076 at an earlier stage of the application process to 0.123 "to reflect the provision of green roofs on the site".

It added that, whilst this fell short of a London Plan target, "additional urban greening has been demonstrated to be unfeasible due in part to the limited load capacity of roofs on two buildings on the site which inhibits the use of these roofs for urban greening".

The report also advised that the GLA had requested that the applicant "consider the provision of positive net gains for biodiversity".

The document said that information had been provided by the applicant "which states that there would be an overall loss of biodiversity units...". However, the report said a financial contribution had been secured through a planning obligation to offset this loss.

Elsewhere, the letter said that concerns raised by the GLA regarding trip generation, active travel and cycle parking had been addressed through a commitment to enhance cycle lane provision and other measures including a £5,000 contribution towards a Travel Plan.

The report also advised that the scheme's provision of 350 car parking spaces was "close to the maximum standard for office development".

It added that "parking restraint is one of the most effective ways of supporting the wider aims of the London Plan, ensuring sustainable development and delivering the mayor's targets for active travel. We would have expected to see a more restraint-based approach in order to deliver greater benefits in this regard."

However, the report went on to say that the agreed travel plan "includes regular reviews following occupation of the site and includes the commitment to reduce the level of car parking if it is not fully utilised".

Pipe advised that he was consent for the council to approve the scheme, subject to any secretary of state intervention.

Darren Rodwell, the leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “Not only will our film studios make Dagenham London’s Hollywood, they will generate thousands of jobs and opportunities which is hugely important in the light of the gloomy economic outlook caused by Covid.”

Pat Hayes, the managing director of Be First, added: “We’ve had a great deal of interest in the studio site and it’s clear that demand for studio space remains high in spite of the recession. We’re now assessing our delivery options and we expect to make a further announcement late in the Autumn."

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