Scotland's share of UK’s film studio space on the rise amid 'flurry of activity'

Scotland’s share of the UK’s film studio space is on the rise as the country looks to become a hub for high-end productions, new research shows.

Analysis from Knight Frank, the commercial property consultancy, found that Scotland now accounts for around 15 per cent of total stage space outside of London and the south east of England, with plans submitted north of the Border for several other major purpose-built facilities.

Property experts pointed to a “flurry of activity” in the sector, with Pioneer Film Studios in Glasgow - a former warehouse and whisky distillery - recently becoming Scotland’s newest and largest film studio. The facility provides up to 200,000 square feet of studio space, as well as supporting workshop and yard spaces.

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In addition, a potential 44-acre campus at Gartcosh in Lanarkshire could provide up to an additional 305,000 sq ft of stage space, 168,000 sq ft of workshop space and 10,000 sq ft of production offices.

Previous attempts at growing the film industry have been hindered by a shortage of purpose-built studio space, particularly in Edinburgh and the east coast.

Knight Frank also highlighted an increased appetite from investors for Scottish studio assets, with two major facilities changing hands last year. Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld, previously the largest purpose-built film studio in Scotland, was acquired by Hackman Capital Partners and Square Mile Capital Management.

Pyramid Business Park - a redeveloped manufacturing site which hosted the filming of the second season of Good Omens, Trainspotting T2 and Netflix’s Outlaw King - was purchased by London and Regional during 2021.

Alasdair Steele, head of Scotland commercial at Knight Frank, said: “There has been a steady rise in inward investment to Scotland’s film sector as more global productions choose Scotland’s natural landscape and scenery, strong creative sector, competitive tax credits and world class talent pool.

Research from commercial property consultancy has found that Scotland’s share of the UK’s film space has continued to grow, buoyed by re-purposed properties and studio conversions.

“We are now beginning to see the amount of studio space capable of facilitating more of these projects coming on stream and providing the long-missing piece of the puzzle, driving the vision for Scotland as a standout location on the world stage. With that tends to come opportunities for local economies and talent emerging from Scotland’s universities and colleges.

“It is highly encouraging to see how far the industry has come in recent years and, with more studio space on the way, we could see even more internationally successful feature films and high-end television productions,” he added.

The research comes a week after Knight Frank said sterling’s weakness could boost overseas investment in a “resilient” Scottish commercial property market.

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The firm found that investment volumes in commercial property north of the Border rose by 37 per cent during the first nine months of 2022 compared to the same period last year, increasing to £1.46 billion from £1.06bn.

Steele said: “The summer period was relatively quiet after a flurry of deals were completed in the lead up to June. However, as we move into the final quarter, there remains a significant amount of dry powder waiting to invest and commercial property is traditionally seen as offering a good hedge against inflation - particularly for overseas investors, with the pound’s current weakness.”

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