Uncertainty surrounds ISG’s £700m film studio


CGI of Sunset Studios

The future of the UK’s largest unbuilt film studio is uncertain amid high inflation and rising interest rates, it has emerged.

In a trading update this week, steel specialist Severfield said its work on the Sunset Waltham Cross Studios project had been removed from its order book. Last yearISG was named as the main contractor for the facility, which is just off the M25.

Severfield’s statement said: “The current backdrop of more persistent high inflation and rising interest rates is resulting in some ongoing delays in the conversion of our existing pipeline of opportunities, as clients wait for economic stability, together with some lower tendering activity, particularly in the distribution sector.

“These more challenging recent market conditions were also a factor in the decision by Sunset Studios to pause construction on its planned new film-production base in Hertfordshire.”

The project – a 91-acre film studio for Hollywood company Sunset Studios – is being co-developed by Blackstone and Hudson Pacific, and won planning permission in July 2022.

A spokesperson for Blackstone declined to say when construction would restart, stating: “The project is on pause, and we do not have any further details to share at this stage.”

Studio construction has boomed in recent years, as the success of streaming giants such as Netflix led to increased demand for studio space in the UK.

Other recent studio projects include Sky Studios in Elstree, Hertfordshire, which was delivered by Bam Construct, and Morgan Sindall’s conversion of Liverpool’s former Littlewoods building.

However, the pause on the Sunset Studios job comes against a backdrop of falling profits at major streaming companies and protracted writers’ and actors’ strikes in the US that have halted the filming of most new TV shows and films.

Enabling works at the Waltham Cross studios, carried out by Erithhave been completed but the expected main construction work failed to get underway early in the summer.

In late July, however, an engagement process was launched with local residents on plans to expand the area originally covered by its planning consent, to include an extra 3.2-hectare field for use as an outdoor filming facility.

At the time, it was said that the new application would be lodged by the end of the summer. No application for the facility has yet appeared on the local council’s planning website.

ISG has been approached for comment.

Earlier this year, ISG lost its £300m contract to deliver an electric-vehicle gigafactory in Northumberland when Britishvolt went into administration, although it was paid in full for the work it had delivered before the scheme was scrapped.

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