Plea for PM to help studio plan

Coolmore directors, from left, John Wood, Tom Maxfield, Alistair Ross and Philip Moross want the help of PM David Cameron to make the Centre for Creative Excellence a reality.

Coolmore directors, from left, John Wood, Tom Maxfield, Alistair Ross and Philip Moross want the help of PM David Cameron to make the Centre for Creative Excellence a reality.

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PRIME Minister David Cameron has been asked to back a media park that has the potential to bring millions of pounds of investment and create hundreds of jobs.

Plans for the Centre for Creative Excellence at Dawdon were approved in 2008 – but work on the project stalled.

Coolmore Consortium are behind the plans and say they could turn farmland off the A182 into what has been descrived as the “Hollywood of Britain”, giving the area a much-needed economic boost with the creation of more than 2,000 jobs.

It would include facilities to make films, television shows, animation and music along with a cinema, hotels and other leisure developments.

Now, as private investment for the project has dried up, Easington MP Grahame Morris has written to the Prime Minister to ask for public cash to be used to kick-start the delayed work.

In a letter to Mr Cameron, he said: “I am writing to ask you to intervene on this issue and assist with this truly unique project that will transform a former mining community into a world-leading digital media facility.

“The state-of-the-art facility would have been the only such facility in the country and would have provided a major boost to our local economy.

“However, with the closure of One North East, who had been providing assistance with the project, the public investment required to begin the project was withdrawn. The current situation is that without public funding investment the project has stalled.

“This would create jobs and regenerate the local community.

“It is the type of project any Government should support and with a little assistance from Government would bring huge financial benefits to the Treasury.”

However, One North East (One) said, while it offered it advice, it was not backing the project financially.

Mr Morris also invited Mr Cameron to visit the site with him to get an insight into how the park could benefit the area.

Northern Film and Media, which is funded by ONE and the Film Council, has also said it welcomes the plans but said no financial commitment was agreed.

However the Echo has seen documents which show it awarded a grant of £200,000 to a project by the consortium.

Coolmore hoped to bring the filming of Dungeons and Dragons: Book of Vile Darkness to the North East, which would act as a catalyst for other projects and in turn the Dawdon plans.

However, the feature, due to be released this year, went on to be made in Bulgaria.

Durham County Council still supports the scheme and is working with the consortium, but has not offered financial help.

East Durham College and University of Sunderland, which hope to run courses from an on-site campus, say they remain involved.

Philip Moross is chairman of the consortium and chief executive of the Cutting Edge Group, which was involved in creating the music for award-winning film The King’s Speech.

He said: “We are still committed and we are still working hard to make this happen. Any support we can get will be welcome.”