CHEERS erupted as planners unanimously rejected Pinewood Studios' ambitious £200m plans for expansion into Green Belt land in South Bucks.
Hundreds of residents were at a meeting of the planning committee at South Bucks District Council today (Wednesday) to hear the decision on plans to develop a living and working community for the creative industries, to include 1,400 homes, streetscapes and community facilities.
Cllr Deirdre Holloway said: "It has been a very exciting proposition. We all support Pinewood but I think we have had a little bit of stardust sprinkled over our eyes. These sets are just facades and behind it we have a housing estate." Planning Committee Chairman Jacquetta Lowen-Cooper said to allow the development of over 110 acres in the Green Belt and Colne Valley Park would cause degradation to the local environment and quality of life of residents, but could also set a precedent.
Protesters, waving placards and signs, realise this is just the first stage in the process of stopping the project.
Sylvie Lowe, of the Stop Project Pinewood group, said: "I can't see them giving up but we are ready now. This was testing our mettle, testing the support of all the surrounding villages." David Smyth, of Pinewood Road, said: "It is fantastic how the council addressed what Pinewood are up to. Pinewood should withdraw this application and not go to appeal because it will be fought by the community." Cllr Julian Wilson said: "The unique scheme is untried and untested. It is a cynical attempt to build 1,400 properties on green belt land. 1,400 houses in this area well sell for, on my estimation, £420m." Ivan Dunleavy, Pinewood Chief Executive, said the application would enhance the status of Pinewood Studios, create a cluster for the creative industries, offer affordable and market housing, and create up to 960 jobs.
After the meeting, Andrew Smith, Group Director of Corporate Affairs at Pinewood, said: "We feel the benefits of skills, training, jobs, affordable homes and growth presented by this innovative project demonstrate the very special circumstances to develop land in the Green Belt.
"We remain committed to the vision of this project and to developing and sustaining UK creative industries at Pinewood for the future. We will now review the details of SBDC's decision."