More time wanted to make County Durham movie studio plan a reality

The proposed media village.
The proposed media village.
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BOSSES behind a multi-million pound media village plan have applied for more time to make the cameras roll.

Permission to build the Centre for Creative Excellence at Dawdon was granted in May 2008, but ground is still to be broken on the 200-acre site because of the credit crunch.

The consortium behind it have now applied to extend the approval period for the development, which includes film and video studios, editing facilities for music and DVDs, a 150-bed hotel, and campuses for students from Sunderland University and East Durham College.

It would also offer leisure facilities, parkland and public buildings.

In documents to Durham County Council, agents for Coolmore Estates state the plan, supported by Tolent Construction, was approved just as the global economic downturn began.

As a result, the “international investment needed to progress the project and fund the development has not been forthcoming to date”.

The group is backing a campaign for an enterprise zone covering Durham, Sunderland, South and North Tyneside and Northumberland, which would bring millions pounds in investment to the region and could create 32,000 jobs.

Philip Moross, chairman of the consortium, said application was made because the plan’s outline approval was due to expire this year.

He said: “We’re doing a lot, trying to create jobs and push this forward.

“What we need is for funders to be given a tax break and encourage people to invest in this part of the enterprise zone.

“We are still looking to create these opportunities.”

Easington MP Grahame Morris has previously raised the issue of funding in the House of Parliament, and with Prime Minister David Cameron.

Easington District Council originally approved the film studio plans, which were then rubber stamped by the Government, with the county council taking on planning responsibility with the launch of the unitary authority two years ago.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham

COOLMORE Productions is a partner in A Song for Marion, which is being filmed in the North East.

The movie stars Terrance Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, ex-Bond Girl Gemma Arteron and former Dr Who Christopher Ecclestone.

Coolmore hopes the project will show that the region can produce hit features and attract invest- ment.