Skip to main content

New powers to turn the North East into film and TV powerhouse

By March 17, 2024No Comments

I am pleased to share the UK Government press release of 15th March 2024:

  • Government funding gives regional leaders green light to kickstart significant new film production studio in the North East, set to be of one of Europe’s largest studio complexes.
  • New powers for local leaders will create thousands of jobs, nurture local talent and attract millions in inward investment.
  • Investment huge vote of confidence in UK and a world-leading hub for film and high-end TV content creation.

On a visit to the University of Sunderland today (Friday 15 March), the PM and Chancellor have confirmed £37m funding and new powers that will give the North East Mayoral Combined Authority the power to unlock one of Europe’s largest filmmaking complexes, in Sunderland.

Last week, the Government announced a “trailblazer” deeper devolution deal with the North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) as part of the Spring Budget, which will empower local leaders with funding and tools to deliver local regeneration priorities. This builds on the government’s ambition to level up across the North East, ensuring the region has the powers needed to deliver long-term change and a brighter future for everyone.

This includes £37m of flexible funding for the remediation of brownfield sites and acceleration of regional projects. Subject to business case, NEMCA intends to use £25m of this funding to remediate the prospective Crown Works Studios site, laying the ground for development of the studio facilities. (Note: 4D Stdio Architects have designed Crwn Works Studios)

Alongside this, government will work towards the designation of a specific ‘growth zone’, in which North East local authorities will be able to retain 100% of business rates growth for the next 25 years. Subject to business case, NEMCA plans to designate the prospective Crown Works Studios site as a ‘growth zone’. This combination of capital funding and business rates retention will get the development off the ground in the short-term and ensure NEMCA and Sunderland City Council can continue to support the project in the long-term.

This has unlocked a £450m investment from FulwellCain, a joint venture between Fulwell 73 and Cain International and backed by Sunderland City Council, to build Crown Works Studios (CWS), which will be one of the largest in Europe and will create over 8,000 jobs in the region.(Note: 4D Stdio Architects have designed Crwn Works Studios)

CWS will see a brownfield site on the banks of the River Wear become the beating heart of the region’s creative economy. It is expected to transform the economy of the North East, spurring a creative industrial revolution and generating £336m Gross Value Added (GVA) a year for the regional economy. It will enhance the UK’s offer to the global film and high-end TV industry, and enable the North East to play a far greater role in future growth.

The North East is already a backdrop for major blockbusters – with Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and Transformers all filmed in the region. The media courses available at the University of Sunderland will partner with CWS and other organisations to help develop the screen industries pipeline in the region.

The creative industries are a British success story, growing at 1.5 times the rate of the wider economy over the last decade contributing £125 billion in GVA in 2022 and supporting over 2 million jobs. The UK is Europe’s largest film and tv production centre and is second only to the US in total screen production output.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

As we have seen from the UK’s success during awards season, our home grown talent is testament to the UK’s reputation as a film, tv and arts superpower.

Through our billion pound package of support for the creative industries, and by empowering local leaders and deepening devolution across England, we are backing British business, growing the economy, anddeveloping the Oscar winners of tomorrow.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said:

Our creative industry doesn’t just win awards – it’s worth over £125bn to our economy and supports over 2 million jobs. That’s why we’re continuing to back it with a £1 billion package of tax reliefs – and it’s fantastic to see this investment in Sunderland which will help nurture the next generation of local talent, also helping to grow our economy.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:

We’re sticking to our plan to grow the creative industries by a further £50 billion and add another 1 million jobs by 2030. We are one step closer to making that ambition a reality thanks to government action unlocking millions of pounds for Crown Works Studios in Sunderland.

Britain’s legendary film studios, like Pinewood, Leavesden and Elstree, are the envy of the world. Filmmakers are increasingly choosing the UK over Hollywood, and the benefits of these productions will be felt right across the country, with well paid, meaningful jobs and a boost to the local economy.

Leo Pearlman, Managing Partner of Fulwell 73:

Crown Works Studios will help transform Sunderland into a global hub for big budget film and TV production – and enable the North East to play a leading role in our most exciting sector.  This funding will kick start a project that will eventually bringing an annual economic boost of £336m to the North East – while also enhancing the UK’s studio capacity to help us remain globally competitive.

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland said:

We are very pleased to welcome the Prime Minster and the Chancellor to the University and to be able to demonstrate the excellent teaching and facilities on offer for students preparing for jobs in the creative sector.

For our award-winning film production students – a product of courses regarded as some of the best in the county – the Crown Works project represents a chance to fulfil their potential while remaining in, and contributing to, the North East.

This ambitious undertaking will require roles from across a range of sectors. We will continue to work with local government and the team behind Crown Works, to develop a skilled workforce to maximise thesuccess of this project.”

Last week’s Budget for Long Term Growth set out a number of measures that will grow the economy – including the media package – and deliver a brighter future for the country.

The full creative industries package announced at Spring Budget, which will catalyse growth in this sector, comprises:

  • A new UK Independent Film Tax Credit at a rate of 53% for films with budgets under £15m which meet the conditions of a new British Film Institute test;
  • 40% relief on gross business rates bills for eligible film studios in England, until 2034;
  • A 5% increase in tax relief for UK visual effects costs in film and high-end TV under the AVEC.

Last summer, the government set out ambitious plans to maximise the potential of the creative industries by growing the industry a further £50 billion in GVA and supporting an additional 1 million jobs by 2030. In total the government has supported the sector with £310 million in government spending since the 2021 Spending Review.

In 2022, the UK saw a record £6.27 billion generated through production spend in the UK, of which £5.37 billion – 86% – was inward investment.

This announcement shows that, when Government gives them the tools, local leaders can drive growth, boost industry and create new jobs for their communities. Devolution is at the heart of our plans to increase economic growth and level up the whole country. Since publishing the Levelling Up White Paper in February 2022, we have agreed 13 new devolution deals – with over 64% of England’s population now covered by a devolution deal – and deepened the powers of six our major city-regions, including the North East.

The government’s commitment to delivering economic growth across the region is evidenced by this investment, alongside Nissan’s announcement in November 2023 that they will build two new electric car models in the UK, in Sunderland.

Leave a Reply