Shinfield Studios – A creative media hub

Our integrated team of town planning, landscape planning and design, development economics, heritage and environment experts have worked together since 2019 to gain planning approval for this exciting 84,300sqm (907,000sqft) creative media hub for Shinfield Studios.

Ideally located within and adjacent to the existing Thames Valley Science Park (TVSP), the new studios are set to make a significant contribution to the UK’s cultural industry, through the provision of some 18 film sound stages (40, 000 sqm), workshops (25,000 sqm) and offices (18,000 sqm), alongside facilities for the co-location of key associated businesses such as digital post-production, artificial intelligence and special computer graphic effects. In addition, there will be a café hub as well as an outdoor courtyard and terrace, plus associated access, decked and surface parking and landscaping.  

Shinfield Studios is at the forefront of the Government’s core focus sectors, technology and creative services, and reflects the ethos behind Thames Valley Science Park (TVSP) - to develop Innovation Valley centred around the University of Reading’s areas of expertise, including Cine Valley which will be focused upon film. Shinfield Studios will be a significant element of this.

Nick Paterson-Neild, Partner said “The studios not only present a unique opportunity to support and grow the creative industry and aid the existing exponential demand in film studio space, but also contribute considerably to innovation, enterprise and investment in the local area. The local community will benefit from an internationally renowned film studio in the local area, with both direct and indirect employment and unique career paths beginning with inspiring employment opportunities for the workforce of the future. Working with our Development Economics team we have been able to clearly demonstrate the economic contribution the studios will create through their operation, including the additional knock-on uplifts in hospitality to accommodate crews and actors during filming for example. As such the scheme offers significant assistance in delivering and sustaining the borough’s economic growth, and therefore supporting the Council’s overarching vision to create a great place to live but also do business.”

Economic benefits

  • 1,500 direct employment jobs (FTE)
  • 1,463 indirect employment jobs (FTE).
  • Combined direct and indirect net employment GVA per annum will be £46.4 million at a local level and £113.3 million nationally.

Beyond this, Shinfield Studios are committed to building a long-term two-way relationship with the local community in Shinfield and the wider Wokingham area. Pre-application discussions with officers of Wokingham Borough Council and the local and wider community have been instrumental in shaping the proposals, while conversations with schools, colleges and the University of Reading Department of Film Theatre and Television will prompt and nurture emerging and future talent, providing routes to careers in this huge but competitive industry.

Project Details

  • 18 film sound stages
  • 25,000 sqm of workshop space
  • 18,000 sqm of office space
  • Café with outdoor courtyard
  • 154 electric vehicle/passive electric spaces
  • 160 cycle parking spaces
  • 10% biodiversity net gain

Looking at the design response, level changes across the site and the significant height requirement for the studios (22m) have meant that moves to minimise impact at every turn have been intrinsic to the proposals, with our landscape planning and design teams playing a significant role in testing and enhancing the ‘impact of the building, from the earliest concept stages. An existing ‘landscape tongue’ for example, has been used in the masterplan to provide a clear, visual landscape buffer between the village of Shinfield and the proposals, while the perception of the built form is reduced by the forming of new ground levels, balancing the cut and fill. Landscaped embankments and retaining structures, such as gabion walls, then run along the perimeter of the site to bed the development into its location. Architecturally, Scott Brownrigg Architects have then worked with us to develop an Industrial and agricultural aesthetic with a strong visual identity, that also seeks to minimise the impact of the buildings. Dark recessive colours will help to further blend the development into the surrounding landscape and reflect the dark backdrop associated with dense woodland, when viewed from a distance.

Working in tandem with town planning colleagues, our landscape designers have proposed a landscape strategy with a clear philosophy centred on four key principles: edges, arrival, existing green corridors and new wildlife corridors. Combined, across the different areas of the site, it aims to integrate the site into its immediate rural setting, whilst enhancing biodiversity and wildlife habitat.

Alex Comrie, Landscape Design Director, said “Tree and hedge planting, along with further bio-diversity contributions from grass meadow mixes and localised marginal planting are included along the boundary. At the entrance to the site, we have created a welcoming and attractive setting that will provide year-round interest. Planting has been purposely located to help guide visitors into the site and soften the building and car park edges and the palette uses a large number of formal shrubs and trees, located to celebrate the development and create a memorable gateway. A new wildlife corridor will enhance the existing green corridor and will include a selection of fruit trees to support and encourage the foraging animals and insects, birds and bats.”

Shinfield Studios has secured support from the Department for International Trade and the British Film Commission. We are extremely proud to be supporting and driving this project which will significantly support/aid the creative industry, the local community, Thames Valley Science Park and the University of Reading. Lights, camera, action!” Nick said.

Works are due to start on site later in the year.

THIS COMMITMENT IS A STRONG ENDORSEMENT OF OUR CREATIVE INDUSTRY AND THE GREAT CREATIVES THAT WORK IN UK FILM, AND IS SET TO DELIVER HUNDREDS OF NEW JOBS IN THE AREA.

Liz Truss, Secretary State for International Trade

Images: Scott Brownrigg