Barking and Dagenham was announced as “the next global destination for making blockbuster movies” when the council and City Hall unveiled proposals for a £110 million studio development in 2017.
It was hoped the 12 sound stages, training facilities, amusement attractions, shops and restaurants earmarked for the 22-acre site — a former factory opposite Dagenham East station — would be under construction this year.
Pacifica Ventures, which is behind the studios where Breaking Bad was made, was chosen as the preferred bidder for the Made in Dagenham studios in early 2018. But according to the council it failed to “progress matters sufficiently” and has lost its preferred bidder status.
In a statement, the company said: “Unfortunately we have been forced to put the project on hold until the Brexit uncertainty has been resolved.
“We understand the council wants to move forward more quickly and they have our blessing if a third party should offer an alternative proposal. We hope that won’t be the case and that we’ll be able to re-start the project very soon.”
The council said it would still be progressing with the plans and will look for other investors but could also complete the project without outside investment. Tonight councillors are expected to agree to spend up to £3.4 million to cover any pre-development costs.
Pat Hayes, managing director of the council’s regeneration company Be First, said: “We were told [Pacifica Ventures] were finding it difficult to deliver on their plans due to uncertainty over the UK leaving the European Union.”
Pinewood, the studio where the James Bond franchise is filmed, was the original frontrunner to take on the site after chairman Paul Golding said the company was looking at “expansion opportunities”.
A City Hall study estimated that the project could generate about 780 full-time jobs in the area and £35 million a year for the UK economy.
However, despite the British film industry spending a record £3.1 billion on movie and TV production last year, the council said it struggled to find investors. “There is a small pool of organisations that fund, build and operate studios, as such the response was limited,” a council report states.
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