Pegasus Group has secured planning permission for an ambitious project that will deliver economic diversity and new jobs to a former RAF base near York.

Selby District Council yesterday unanimously approved plans for Makin Enterprises to develop a creative hub on land at the former RAF Church Fenton airbase, already home to Yorkshire’s largest film studio and where parts of the hit TV drama Victoria are filmed.

The project, Create Yorkshire, will build on the success of the Church Fenton Studios with the redevelopment of the major brownfield site within the Leeds City Region in order to provide enhanced opportunities for film and TV.

Makin Enterprises is a family business based at Garforth in Leeds that took on the 450 acre former RAF Church Fenton aerodrome in December 2014.

Chris Makin, of Makin Enterprises, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive the unanimous backing of Selby District Council on the next phase of this exciting project, which is set to change the creative landscape of the region. Create Yorkshire is an opportunity to attract unprecedented investment, growth and innovation and which we look forward to delivering the plans in the very near future.”

Temporary planning permission for commercial film-making and related tourism use was granted in 2015. The site is currently being used for commercial film making and a wide variety of creative businesses have been attracted to the area.

Chris Calvert, Executive Planning Director at Pegasus Group’s Leeds office, said: “Alongside a compelling masterplanning exercise, making the economic case for the proposed development was one of the key parts of the application and Pegasus Group was able to produce detailed analysis looking at the numerous benefits the scheme will create once it is developed and operational.

“Our analysis focused on:

  • The importance of the digital and creative sector to the district, the region and the UK as a whole
  • Identifying the main economic benefits of the scheme
  • Economic output
  • Contribution to the Exchequer
  • Impact on tourism
  • The skills agenda

“The project will build on the reputation gained by the successful production of ITV’s Victoria at the site and it is hoped that the location could attract educational institutions with the potential for a campus on site.

“The studios will sit alongside a creative industries employment campus and in total the scheme is predicted to bring about around 1,800 new jobs to the region, fitting with the national and regional agenda for growth in this sector.”

Yorkshire and Humber is the UK’s fastest growing region for film and TV, with industry growth rate more than double the national average. Between 2009 and 2015 it generated an annual turnover of £424m across 590 creative business. According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, the creative industries account for around 104,000 jobs in the region.

Chris added: “The arts and creative industries are causing a real buzz across the North, and this project will provide the facilities and space for many complementary businesses to work alongside each other. This is a very exciting time.”

The development is split across two distinct areas.

The Northern Section – Create Yorkshire – targets creative, digital or media businesses and will make use of ‘green infrastructure’, with a central campus park at its heart. The provision of overnight accommodation is included, specifically for people using the creative hub and film studios. The new buildings will range in size, from large units, to smaller units suitable for start-up businesses.

The Southern Section – Studios – will be a studio area for commercial film-making. Currently Hangar 1 is used by Mammoth Screen for ITV’s Victoria production, along with the workshops and stores, which are being used as TV production facilities.

Hangar 2 and Hangar 3 will be converted permanently into further TV and film studios (termed ‘stages’) and additional built space could be provided within this studio area. Alongside this is retained aviation structures, in an ‘aviation hub’ that would operate in association with the runways and taxiways.

Create Yorkshire

Create YorkshireSpecialist advice was provided by Scott Royal of Royal Pilgrim Communications, supported by WSP, Alan Wood and Partners and Wright Environment.

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