Dagenham film studios backer set to open second site in Barking

Cllr Darren Rodwell with Lisa Dee, head of Film LBBD inside one of the warehouses at The Wharf in Barking.

Cllr Darren Rodwell with Lisa Dee, head of Film LBBD inside one of the warehouses at The Wharf in Barking. - Credit: Andrew Baker/Be First

The Los Angeles based media giant behind Dagenham's film studio is to open a second site in the borough.

Hackman Capital Partners (HCP) has struck a deal with the council to lease two warehouses in Barking which will be converted into studios.

Known as The Wharf, the 10-acre site on the River Roding will complement Dagenham's larger Eastbrook Studios complex.

The global media and real estate firm's second investment brings up to £350million into the borough.

The combined studios have been hailed by the town hall's regeneration arm, Be First, as having the potential to create more than 1,800 jobs.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: "This is fantastic news and is another sign of the huge confidence in our borough, London and the UK from HCP. 

"Their decision to invest in The Wharf is another boost for our borough and London, meaning more jobs and opportunities for local people.

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"We will not only be able to say movies will be 'Made in Dagenham' but in Barking too."

The scheme includes six sound stages, production offices and workshop space.

The studios are expected to open before the main Eastbrook site and could be available for filming as early as this autumn. 

Michael Hackman, Hackman Capital Partners' chief executive officer, said: "We are delighted to develop The Wharf and continue Barking and Dagenham’s transformation into a global media hub.

"We are proud to add to the history of this area and have the support of such innovative and impactful leaders like council leader Rodwell."

Minister for investment, Lord Grimstone of Boscobel, said: "[This is] brilliant news for Barking and Dagenham with a further commitment from Hackman Capital Partners towards boosting the local economy, driving regeneration and showcasing the UK’s world-class film industry to the world.

"The government is paving the way for an investment-led recovery through our Office for Investment, freeports and measures to ensure the UK is the best place to invest and grow a business."

A joint bid by DP World, Forth Ports and Ford for a Thames freeport alongside the Ports of London Gateway and Tilbury in Thurrock has already got the thumbs up from government.

Pat Hayes, managing director of Be First - which negotiated The Wharf agreement for the council - said: "This announcement is further proof Barking and Dagenham is attracting modern, knowledge based and creative industries.

"The borough, which was blighted by deindustrialisation in the late 20th century, is becoming economically vibrant again."

Eastbrook Studios, which HCP and Square Mile Capital announced plans to build last year, is expected to contribute £35m a year into the borough's economy and boost development in east London.

HCP is working with the council and Barking and Dagenham College on education opportunities.

Jason Turton, assistant principal at the college, said: “We are extremely excited to be working with such forward-thinking partners.

"We are proud to be part of this new vision for the borough and are working closely together to ensure we give local people opportunities that are hard to find in the film and creative industries."

Adrian Wootton OBE, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: "There could never be a better time to open new studio space in the capital.

"Despite Covid, London and the UK’s film and TV industry is flourishing."

He added recovery in the industry in the last three months of 2020 saw more than £1billion in spending on film and TV in the UK.

"We just need the studio space to match it, which is why today’s announcement of additional sound stages in east London by autumn is not only welcome, but extremely timely.

"Film and high-end TV can help drive London and the UK’s economic recovery, providing UK plc with billions of pounds, supporting hundreds and thousands of jobs and bringing regeneration and growth to areas like Barking and Dagenham."