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.
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.”
Paul Britton, CEO of the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce commented:
“Today’s announcement about Blackhall Studios film and TV studio is one of the most significant investments into the Thames Valley in the last decade. A win for UK Plc and a big statement to the world about the phenomenal and ongoing opportunities in the creative, digital and media industries that are available throughout our progressive region.
“Congratulations to members including the University of Reading, colleagues and all of those involved locally, nationally and internationally, who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes in securing this win.”
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.