Scottish film studio bid bolstered by financial backers

An artistss impression of how the Pentland Studios would look. Picture: Contributed
An artistss impression of how the Pentland Studios would look. Picture: Contributed

Developers behind a bid to create Scotland’s first permanent film studio on the outskirts of Edinburgh have revealed they have a string of operators and backers on board for the project.

The team behind the £150 million Pentland Studios scheme, earmarked for a huge swathe of green belt land in Midlothian, confirmed agreements were in place with several potential investors waiting in the wings.

Details of the deals, which are being kept under wraps due to commercial confidentiality, have been revealed weeks after it emerged senior council officials were opposed to the project.

The consortium - led by former Ealing Studios director Jeremy Pelzer and former Warner Bros development manager Jim O’Donnell - has hit back at their suggestions that there is no commercial support in place for the studio.

It has rejected claims that the project - earmarked for 86 acres of land near to existing Ikea, Asda, Marks and Spencer, Homebase and Sainsbury’s stores - is a front for a retail development. Objectors against the scheme include the real estate giant behind the £850 million St James shopping centre overhaul in Edinburgh city centre, who fear the Midlothian project would undermine their own venture.

The development team is also adamant more than 900 jobs will be created by the privately-funded project, which the Scottish Government is due to decide on later this year after the consortium decided to mount an appeal on the grounds of non-determination by the local authority. It would include six sound stages suitable for both film and television productions would be created, alongside two Hollywood-style backlots, a water stage, a film academy, a hotel and student housing.

However a damning dossier on the development by Midlothian Council have raised fears that the studio venture will blight the local landscape, cause unacceptable disruption to local residents and threaten the expansion of other developments.

Gordon MacCallum, director of Keppie, the consortium’s agents, has submitted fresh evidence to the government.

He said: “With regard to a requirement to confirm commercial investors, PSL Land Limited can confirm that they have signed a number of non-disclosure agreements with funding partners and operators of the development.

“Given the legal implications of such agreements, it is not considered appropriate to disclose such information at this time.”