Posted on Thursday 30 January 2014 by Ulster Business

Tq shrunk

The developers of Titanic Quarter have confirmed they have lodged a planning application for a 100,000 sq ft extension to their existing film studios in Belfast.

The £14m project, which includes studios plus associated production workshops and production facilities, will increase the current Titanic Quarter media complex to more than 250,000 sq ft.

Pending planning approval and completion of funding agreements work on site could begin within the next few months.

Ulster Business first revealed details of the studio plans in December.

Titanic Quarter Ltd said today that with demand for film and television production space in Northern Ireland at an all time high at and demand anticipated to rise, it has lodged a planning application for an additional two film studios to enhance the existing production centre at Titanic Studios by 100,000 sq ft.

David Gavaghan, Titanic Quarter's CEO, said: "The phenomenal international success of the HBO series 'Game of Thrones', filmed primarily in Northern Ireland and Europe's biggest budget television drama, is driving demand for additional film and television production space in Belfast.

"The planning application is a measure of Titanic Quarter's intent to ensure that Northern Ireland's burgeoning film industry continues to grow and that there is an adequate supply of bespoke, hi-tech space to support the needs of production companies."

Since 2007 when it was used for the movie 'City of Ember', the Titanic Studios, based on an eight-acre site within Titanic Quarter, has proved increasingly popular with production firms which are also drawn by Northern Ireland's mix of outdoor locations, digital media expertise and supporting trades such as set design and construction.

In 2012 the First and deputy First Ministers opened two new state-of the-art sound studios at Titanic Studios representing an £8m, 45,000 sq ft extension. Last September the two Ministers also visited the Steiner Film Studios in New York to promote collaboration and film production in Northern Ireland.

Richard Williams, CEO of the industry trade body Northern Ireland Screen, welcomed the expansion plans: "The expansion of the former Paint Hall, which housed our first international production in 2007, was a real driver in the development of the film and television production industry in Northern Ireland and helped boost Northern Ireland's standing in the marketplace.

"As we move into a new phase of international activity, on the back of the new tax breaks for high-end television drama and animation, Northern Ireland Screen needs to be able to assure the global industry of our continued capability to house large-scale international productions. There is no doubt that the demand for further studio infrastructure exists and the construction of more stages can only assist us with attracting further production to Northern Ireland."

For the four years between April 2010 and March 31, 2014, based on productions already completed in Northern Ireland and on predictions to the end of this period, Northern Ireland Screen estimates its main production fund will return £120m to the local economy on an investment of £27.8m, with the total value of productions in this period predicted to be £294m.

Mr Gavaghan said Titanic Quarter also has ambitions to create Northern Ireland's first dedicated digital media campus. The Titanic Studios will be the anchor user, but the campus would also draw upon the complementary talent pool available in hi-tech creative firms already based within the nearby Northern Ireland Science Park and the region's growing number of new media students, he said.

"The planned extension will help turn that goal into reality by establishing Belfast as one of Europe's largest film production locations with eight stages," he said.



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