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Preferred bidder for Dagenham film studio project falls through

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:37 15 October 2019

How the new film studios in Dagenham East could look. Picture credit: LBBD

How the new film studios in Dagenham East could look. Picture credit: LBBD

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More than £3million is in question as the council decides whether to take the Dagenham film studios project into its own hands - at least for now.

The site for the Dagenham East film studio on Rainham Road South. Picture: Ken Mears.The site for the Dagenham East film studio on Rainham Road South. Picture: Ken Mears.

Experienced studio and soundstage builder Pacifica Ventures was the preferred bidder for the project, but it "hasn't performed", according to council documents.

The council's development arm Be First wants the authority to design and get planning permission for the studios. A £3.4million effort, the goal would be to provide more certainty to a potential buyer or tenant - planning permission stands even if the land owner changes.

The decision is set to be made at tonight's cabinet meeting (Tuesday, October 15).

Next to Dagenham East tube station, the site used to be home to the Paris-based Sanofi Pharmaceuticals. It employed 4,000 people and closed in 2013.

A warehouse on the site for the proposed project. Picture: Ken Mears.A warehouse on the site for the proposed project. Picture: Ken Mears.

Now the council wants the area to be home to what could be the next big employers in the borough: the film and television industries.

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The site has already seen some sets. Secret Cinema, which creates immersive role-playing experiences based on hit films and TV shows, has hosted its run of Casino Royale at a warehouse there since June.

The cabinet is due to decide on the proposal tonight. If approved, it now look at different ways to complete the studios, including building them itself and selling the land to a buyer.

A warehouse on the site for the proposed project. Picture: Ken Mears.A warehouse on the site for the proposed project. Picture: Ken Mears.

More than £43m has already been sunk into the idea through buying and maintaining land. A report on the proposal notes: "The 'do nothing' option means the studios proposals would not progress, having a very negative political and perceptual impact."

But if the film studios do come off, the council hopes it will regenerate the borough's image, bring investment to the area's economy and boost employment. It could also provide a source of long-term income for the authority.

The buildings would have to be environmentally friendly. To be eligible for a Bafta, productions have to hit certain sustainability targets.

While film studios are not a normal council service, it isn't unprecedented. Both Bristol and Manchester councils have built and now run locations for film and television.

How the new film studios in Dagenham East could look. Picture credit: LBBDHow the new film studios in Dagenham East could look. Picture credit: LBBD

Bristol City Council helps run The Bottle Yard Studios and Manchester City Council owns Space Studios.

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