The University of Reading is in discussions to lease space at its Thames Valley Science Park for a major new film studios complex.
The proposals for studios and associated creative and digital hub would take up most of the remaining land allocated in the original outline planning for the Thames Valley Science Park in Shinfield, just south of the M4. The science park is already home to a range of high-tech buildings and tenants, with the British Museum Archaeological Research Collection currently under construction. These would not be affected by the new proposals.
Blackhall Studios, the Atlanta-based production hub that has hosted several high-profile shoots in recent years, has signed an agreement with the University of Reading to develop its first U.K. facility.
Due for completion in early 2022, the new studio will offer physical production stages alongside digital media facilities tailored for special effects, augmented reality and animation, and will be located at the Thames Valley Science Park, a tech-hub 40 miles west of London.
“We are delighted to be establishing a base in the U.K.,” says Blackhall CEO Ryan Millsap. “We hope that the site at Thames Valley Science Park will be the start of a series of investments in the U.K. which will see investment in jobs, training and the creative arts across a range of disciplines. The U.K. has a wealth of talent that our U.K. companies recognize and want to partner with for decades to come.” See more at Variety.
With the potential of much needed studio space to address a national shortage, the University hopes that film studios at Thames Valley Science Park could become a hub for a range of supporting creative and digital businesses. Options for the future of the park could encourage clusters of businesses in similar fields, linked to areas of world-leading academic expertise at the University.
Over the next 20 years, the Thames Valley Science Park could grow these clusters to encourage and encompass a wider range of specialist employment.
Samantha Foley, the University’s Chief Financial Officer, said: “These are exciting proposals that would focus the future of Thames Valley Science Park around key areas of expertise at the University of Reading including film and TV, heritage and the arts, and innovation and technology.
“We want the science park to reflect our institutional priorities of supporting excellence, environmental sustainability and building strong communities. We will work closely with our neighbours and the wider community to create long-term opportunities to benefit Shinfield and the whole region.”
The University of Reading will now listen to local people and other stakeholders on how a broader vision may look at Thames Valley Science Park, including these areas of innovation. The University of Reading will submit a response to the Wokingham Borough Council Draft Local Plan in light of this feedback and a review of technical and need considerations.
Any further developments would look to encourage closer engagement with local communities, schools and organisations, as well as students and staff at the University of Reading, providing opportunities for training and careers in a variety of fields of economic importance to the UK economy.