Controversial £200m film studio given the go-ahead

An artist's impression of Pentland Studios.
An artist's impression of Pentland Studios.

The controversial £200 million film studio complex at Old Pentland Farm near Straiton has sensationally been given the go-ahead.

The decision by ministers overturns a recommendation from a Scottish government reporter that the Pentland Studios Project should be thrown out, and comes despite strong local opposition to the proposals.

The long-awaited decision comes more than a year after it was called in by Holyrood when Midlothian Council failed to make an initial ruling on the application.

The privately backed development will include a power station, hotel, six sound stages and a water stage.

The group behind the plans, Pentland Studios Ltd (PSL), is delighted that the planning application was approved.

A spokesman said: “We are very pleased with the decision by Ministers to approve the grant of planning permission in principle for Scotland’s world-class film &and TV studio complex.

“We will be moving forward immediately with the application for planning permission in detail for the Film Studio, Academy and Energy Centre sections of the development.

“Working with Midlothian Council, PSL hopes this next stage will be expedited accordingly, recovering the construction scheduling that will enable delivery of the key studio operation by late 2018.

“It is anticipated that a detailed schedule to progress the planning application will be agreed with Midlothian Council in the next few weeks, producing a phased timeframe with the Studio, Academy and Energy Centre as the first buildings to be progressed to full planning consent.”

However, the decision has angered local people firmly against the film studio plans, with local farmer Jim Telfer now facing eviction from Old Pentland Farm, where the studios are to be built.

The land has been farmed by his family for more than 100 years.

A Protect Damhead spokesman said:“This proposal has been objected to by local residents, the community council, the local authority, the Film Studio Delivery Group and the Scottish Government Reporter recommended the application for refusal.

“Our community is devastated by this announcement. This could result in the eviction of our local farmer.

“This statement has dealt a blow to our community, but we are resilient.”

The Association of Film and Television Practitioners Scotland, which represents some of those working in film and television, previously said it believed the sector was being badly affected by the lack of a studio space.