The University of Reading has entered into an agreement with affiliates of Commonwealth Real Estate, a film studios investor based in Los Angeles, for a long lease of land at the University’s Thames Valley Science Park campus, Berkshire, which will see the development of a major film studios and creative media campus.
Following consultation with the local community, the campus will be known as Shinfield Studios, and is expected to open, subject to planning approval, in late 2022. The studios will bring Hollywood film productions to the UK, creating around 1,500 new jobs, and supporting up to 1,500 further indirect jobs, the University said.
The parties said the scheme is expected to create £500m of annual inward investment to the UK with the studios and associated creative and digital hub providing opportunities for people and businesses in the region, as well as for young people from a wide range of backgrounds, including students and graduates of the University of Reading.
Professor Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said in a statement: “We are delighted that this agreement has been reached, which will bring welcome significant Hollywood investment, creativity and job opportunities to Reading, Wokingham and the wider Thames Valley. It is a credit to the hard work and determination of everyone involved to have concluded a transaction while negotiating through challenging restrictions on movement and travel. This lease presents a superb opportunity for the University and facilitates an exciting development for the wider community, and we look forward to Commonwealth bringing their vision to life.”
Nick Smith, Managing Director of Shinfield Studios, said: “Britain has an enviable array of filmmaking talent, but the industry is short of high-quality studio facilities capable of catering for the new and emerging technologies that will form the core of television and film production in the future.
“This development costing over £200 million will create a new powerhouse of creative production and new talent, as well as generating up to 3,000 new jobs. Completing this exciting transaction is a big step forward and we look forward to ongoing consultation and engagement with all local stakeholders as this project advances.”
Adam Fisher, Commonwealth Founder and Chief Investment Officer (CIO), said: “We look forward to building partnerships across Wokingham and Reading to make this project a resounding success. Our ambitions for the new studio will be of real benefit to the local economy and the UK as a whole.”
Cllr John Halsall, leader of Wokingham Borough Council, said: “This is very welcome news for people in Wokingham and the wider region. Wokingham has a strong record of supporting world-class businesses, including existing links with the film industry. We look forward to providing everyone involved with the opportunity to put their plans and views forward as part of our usual rigorous planning process.”
Details of the size of the lease were not given but Reading University gained consent in 2017 for 800,000 sq ft of flexible laboratory and offices in a campus style setting at the park.