£150m plan for major film studio in Midlothian

A BID to create a major film studio complex on the outskirts of Edinburgh has taken a huge step forward as full details of the project were revealed for the first time.

An artist's impression of the new complex.
An artist's impression of the new complex.

The £150 million privately-funded venture would transform 86 acres of land close to the existing retail complex at Straiton, in Midlothian, within just two years.

Six sound stages suitable for both film and television productions would be created, alongside two Hollywood-style backlots, an outdoor water stage and a film academy under plans lodged with Midlothian Council.

As well as 130,000sq ft of studio space, other proposed facilities include a 50,000sq ft creative industries hub and 50,000sq ft of workshop space for productions using the sound stages. Space will be made available to the advertising, gaming and music industries, as well as film, television and theatre companies.

The two largest sound stages will be up to 70ft tall, with the remaining four having a maximum height of 50ft. The outdoor backlots will take up 20.14 acres and 8.6 acres while a 45,000sq ft “paddock” is proposed for underwater filming.

A satellite-link “earth station” will allow productions to swiftly and securely transfer film or TV show rushes, clips or entire productions for editing or viewing purposes. The complex will even boast its own visitor attraction, which will allow people to “experience the working dynamics of a world-class production facility,” as well as a 180-room hotel and health spa.

Those behind the Pentland Studios project, which is being pursued by a consortium of property developers and film industry figures, claim it would give Scotland the UK’s third -biggest film studio hub. It would also address long-standing concerns that Scotland is lagging way behind the likes of Wales and Northern Ireland, where Doctor Who and Game of Thrones are made respectively, as a production base.

The consortium behind the Straiton site has spent around two years on its plans, which were drawn up after 28 sites around the country were ­considered.

It hopes to secure planning permission within the next few months, although a significant stumbling block will be the need to develop part of the project on green belt land.

Jim O’Donnell, development director of PSL Land Ltd, the firm behind the studio scheme, said: “We look forward to creating a world-class facility to complement Scotland’s existing studio spaces and stunning locations.

“Situated on the outskirts of one of Europe’s greatest cities, the proposed studio will place broadcast, indigenous and international film production needs at the forefront, whilst retaining the character and integrity of the local area and its natural beauty.”

The Pentland Studios team, who went public with their plans last summer, insist that the project does not rely on the backing of public sector bodies such as the Scottish

Government, Scottish Enterprise or Creative Scotland, which have been under fire for delays in backing a national film studio.

There are concerns that any significant public sector investment in a studio development will fall foul of strict EU state aid rules.