Wednesday 21 March 2018

New €90m studio hits planning stumbling block


Katheryn Winnick, one of the stars of Vikings, which was shot at Ashford Studios
Katheryn Winnick, one of the stars of Vikings, which was shot at Ashford Studios

Gordon Deegan

Plans for a €90m extension to the Co Wicklow studios where the hit series Vikings is shot have hit a stumbling block. This follows Wicklow County Council putting the ambitious plan on hold and telling Joe and Shelley O'Connell's Ashford Studios that it is unlikely to give the plan the go-ahead at Kellystown, Ashford, unless the promoters can justify the plan as currently devised.

In the plan - that has the potential to create 1,500 movie-related jobs - Ashford Studios is seeking to construct four new film studios, a TV studio, offices, support space and a visitor centre.

Phase one of the studios was completed in May 2012 and during five years of operation, the Vikings series has been located there, utilising 33 acres of space and hiring up to 450.

The studios are seeking a 10-year permission for the studios on a 100-acre site that includes 60 acres of 'backlots'. The plan also includes parking spaces for 648 cars and 101 coaches.

Last year, Shelley O'Connell wrote to Wicklow Co Council and said that negotiations with prospective films companies are at an advanced stage. However, in its request for further information, council planners stated that the development of the land is contingent on a number of zoning requirements including the agreement of a master plan which stipulated that development shall generally be from south to north.

"Your proposal is for the development of lands to the north in contravention of the zoning requirement and your proposal without the agreement of a master plan for the entire area is premature," the council said.

"In the absence of satisfactory justification being provided to address the above issues, the planning authority is unlikely to grant permission for the proposed development."

The council also stated that by virtue of its scale, design and traffic generation, the proposal does not fit within the existing rural landscape.

Sunday Indo Business

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