Councillors agree to lease Dagenham film studios site to operator who will build and run it

Artist's impression of the Dagenham film studios. Picture: Be First

Artist's impression of the Dagenham film studios. Picture: Be First - Credit: Be First

Plans to produce the next generation of hit films in Dagenham have moved a step closer after councillors agreed to lease the site to a studio operator.

Cabinet members agreed to the proposal for a 250 year leasehold sale on the condition the operator builds and manages the studios.

It would see the former Sanofi site opposite Dagenham East station transformed into what is set to be the largest studios in London.

During the meeting, which took place on Tuesday, October 20, members were told that the council wanted to attract “high class talent and huge players in the market”.

Cllr Dominic Twomey said: “This is a transformational opportunity for that part of the borough and, big as it is, it may not be the only one because actually we know that’s an industry that’s growing rapidly. We’ve got the land and the opportunity to move these on.”

Three options were put forward - to sell the land with no restrictions, for the council to deliver the project itself, or to sell a long leasehold with the condition it was used for studios.

Cllr Cameron Geddes told the virtual meeting that the latter option - which was highlighted as the preferred option in a pre-meeting report - was the “best way forward to maximise the benefit for the community”.

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Council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell said: “This decision is a big step forward on our journey to make Dagenham London’s Hollywood.

“It’s a great day for Dagenham and shows there’s a bright future for the borough despite the challenges we are facing with Covid and Brexit.

“This decision paves the way for much needed jobs and opportunities for our residents and local businesses.”

Pat Hayes, managing director of the council’s regeneration arm Be First, said: “Demand for film production facilities in the UK remains incredibly high, so it’s not surprising we received a great deal of interest in the Dagenham studios project.

“We received seven very strong bids from the film industry to develop the studios and following evaluation have chosen one of these to take the project forward and make sure films will be made in Dagenham.”

The council’s chief operating officer will be given authority to approve the land’s lease to a preferred bidder, with an announcement due next month.