Work could start next year. Credit: via MHW PR

Views sought on Sunderland studio scheme

Consultation has begun for Crown Works Studios, a film-making complex mapped out for a 1.66m sq ft site on the banks of the River Wear.

FulwellCain Studios, a joint venture between Cain International and entertainment company Fulwell73, the company behind The Kardashians, Friends: the Reunion and Sunderland Til I Die – announced its ambitions for the site in partnership with Sunderland City Council earlier this year.

Planner Lichfields is now moving the process forward with a consultation process that will inform a full planning application for the site.

The partners said that if the plans advance, the studios will spearhead a new UK creative industries hub in the North East, housing 19 premium sound stages, offices, workshops, a vendor village, and an extensive backlot.

Crown Works Studios would stand on a prominent, currently disused, brownfield site on the banks of the Wear. Digital consultation is now open and will run until 5pm on 23 June, with the offline consultation running until the end of the month.

The scheme would be delivered in three phases, with the final phase set to complete by 2027.

Leo Pearlman, partner in Fulwell 73, said: “Fulwell is a company built on family and the North East is embedded in our DNA.  For over 100 years my family had a business here in Sunderland and called this great city home and I really believe in the opportunities for the screen industry to invest in our beloved North East region.

“Through delivering the studios, we will create a long-term production industry infrastructure, contributing to the local economy in the North East, attract even more significant high-end production to the UK and ensuring that future generations of North Eastern talent with all skill sets can develop and prosper at home within the region.”

The site is 1.66m sq ft in total. Credit: via MHW PR

The total value of UK screen production rose to £5.6bn in 2021, generating an estimated 118,000 jobs in the UK. It is forecast to rise to £7.5bn by 2025.

Lynda Newsome, associate director at Lichfields’ Newcastle office, said: “This is a prestigious project that will create thousands of jobs, economic prosperity and put the region on the map as an international centre for broadcast and film production.

“It also heralds the continued dramatic transformation of Sunderland’s Riverside area, so we are extremely keen to hear the views of as many local people and stakeholders as possible before final plans are submitted.”

The project is supported by Sunderland City Council, which has brought together a number of key partners to work with the investors to shape plans including around the development of the skills-base needed to support the scheme.

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of the local authority, said: “The public’s reaction to the initial announcement was incredible.  I think people in the city recognise very clearly this development’s potential to totally transform our economy – and the way in which this will deliver a shot in the arm for the whole of the North East.”

Hydrock is providing civil and structural engineering support, along with fire and sustainability advice.

A full planning application will be submitted to Sunderland City Council later this summer with onsite construction expected to start in 2024.

Consultation is open until the end of June. Credit: via MHW PR

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