Blackstone, Hudson Pacific get planning approval for 1.2 msf UK studio facility

Blackstone, Hudson Pacific get planning approval for 1.2 msf UK studio facility
Sunset Waltham Cross Studios (image credit: Leonard Design Architects)

Blackstone and Hudson Pacific Properties have received a planning approval to develop Sunset Waltham Cross Studios, a major new studio facility for feature films, high-end television and digital production in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.

Preliminary site work is expected to start in the second half of 2022 with construction to commence in 2023 and the potential delivery of the project by year-end 2025.

The project will significantly benefit the community, and anticipates creating over 4,800 jobs in Broxbourne and the surrounding area and contributing more than £300 million annually to the local economy.

Further expanding their partnership, funds managed by Blackstone and Hudson Pacific will transform a 91-acre site into a state-of-the-art, 1.2 million square-foot studio campus, creating one of the UK’s largest film and television production locations.

The project will include 21 sound stages totalling 470,000 square feet, 420,000 square feet of workshop and mill space, and 250,000 square feet of stage-adjacent production office and support space as well as abundant amenity, basecamp and backlot spaces.

James Seppala, Head of Blackstone Real Estate Europe, said: “We would like to thank Broxbourne Council for its valued input and we are excited that our expanded partnership with Hudson Pacific will deliver a world-class studio facility to be used by homegrown and international talent. Sunset Waltham Cross Studios will be a world-renowned hub for content creation and creativity that will help assert the UK’s role as a premier destination for creating entertainment and is yet another demonstration of our commitment to investing in the UK.”

Set to become one of the ‘greenest’ studios in the UK, Sunset Waltham Cross will target LEED Gold certification and a BREEAM Excellent rating which would put the development in the top 10% of buildings in the UK in terms of its sustainability performance, with energy efficiency and biodiversity central to its design and development. Moreover, once operational, extensive sustainability initiatives will lower the carbon impact of every production filmed at the studio. Sunset Waltham Cross will also feature more green and open space than any other major studio in the UK.

Stages will have up to 50-foot clear heights with varying sizes to accommodate nearly any type of production. Designs leverage Hudson Pacific’s extensive expertise redeveloping and operating studios, including maximising the site’s efficiency and security and integrating the latest technology. Located just 17 miles north of central London, adjacent to both the M25 and A10 highways, and close to Overground and National Rail stations, Sunset Waltham Cross is easily accessible from anywhere in Greater London.

Sunset Waltham Cross is Blackstone and Hudson Pacific’s first expansion outside of the US for its jointly owned Sunset Studios, which now comprises five facilities and over 60 stages. For more than a century, Sunset Studios facilities have hosted legendary productions such as When Harry Met Sally and La La Land as well as numerous other Academy Award winning films.

Victor Coleman, Chairman and CEO at Hudson Pacific, said: “We are thrilled that in less than one year since we announced this exciting expansion of our relationship with Blackstone, we are ready to begin site work with the ability to start construction next year. With demand for state-of-the-art studio space rising globally, this 21-stage project will bring much needed supply to one of the fastest growing media markets in the world, leveraging our development and operational expertise along the way. Importantly, the project will result in the creation of more than 4,800 jobs in the local community and we are taking a highly sustainable approach which is central to Hudson Pacific’s and Blackstone’s core values.”