Barking and Dagenham is carving out a film heritage beyond the Made in Dagenham picture about striking Ford factory workers, with plans for a film studio complex. Ruth McKee reports
London is a cinematic city — Nelson's Column, the Palace of Westminster and the iconic dome of St Paul's Cathedral have become A-list stars of Hollywood blockbusters in their own right.
With big-budget production companies flocking to London, the capital has been struggling to keep up with the demand for high-quality studio space.
But a 6.87-ha site in Barking and Dagenham's new cultural quarter could open up this east London borough to the film industry, contributing to its status as a global capital of filmmaking.
In 2016, mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Barking and Dagenham Council launched a feasibility study into building film studios in London, which would be the first of their scale in the city for more than 25 years.
Anticipating a positive outcome, Barking and Dagenham Council bought up a swathe of old industrial land in the borough from Sainsbury's for £12 million.
The vision for the new multimillion pound development includes a large amount of studio space for big-budget movies and for smaller scale live television shows to be recorded in front of a live audience.
Figures from the mayor of London's office reveal that the creative industries account for one-in-six jobs in the capital and are worth £35 billion to its economy.
And the council has already started cultivating a dynamic cultural renaissance in the borough.
The IceHouse Quarter provides affordable studio space to artists and makers, which is partly subsidised to support the continued growth of the cultural industries.
Film producer Kobir Forid has taken up space there and tells BOLD it was an obvious decision to make the move from Tower Hamlets to Barking.
"The area really does have a burgeoning arts scene – there are arts festivals that the council invests in. And now there are these new film studios," he says.
"The council has its own film department, which actually goes out of its way to help.
They are all industry people themselves, so that helps too."
The City of London Corporation is about to buy Barking Power Station site in east London for around £125 million, according to Property Week.
A £25 million grant for Barking and Dagenham Council will help it support new housebuilding over the next four years.
Councillor Darren Rodwell, the leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, has welcomed the decision to approve the proposed Beam Park…