Ambitious plans to build a cluster of film and TV studios will help to propel the Thames Estuary to the “forefront of the UK’s film, TV and music industries”, attracting investment and top creative talent to the region.
Existing plans to deliver film and TV studios in Purfleet-on-Thames and Dagenham support the vision of Creative Estuary – a consortium of public sector and cultural organisations working to forge a future founded on creative energy and innovation along the length of the Thames.
As part of a concerted drive to build on this, collaborative plans have now been put forward to turn the area, spanning from Southend to Margate, into “one of the most exciting creative clusters in the world” with film and television playing a major part in helping to raise the profile of the area.
Progress was discussed at a recent online event where a series of speakers pledged their commitment to the project.
Ken Dytor is the Executive Chairman of Urban Catalyst and Founder of Purfleet Centre Regeneration Limited as well as a Non-Executive Board Member on the Thames Estuary Growth Board.
He said: “As part of the planning process for the Purfleet Centre Regeneration Project we spoke to the TV industry who told us there is a real demand for film and TV facilities.
He said: “We want to make this a healthy community and a creative community is it at the heart of all that. We have consent for 11 film, TV and creative studios which is at the very centre of where we are driving forward.”
Lisa Dee is Head of Film in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and is a member of the Creative Estuary Cultural Co-location Advisory Group.
She said: “Back when I started at the Council in 2009, we were one of the only London Boroughs not to have a film office. Off the back of the demand for filming space in London, the Council purchased a 23-acre site in Dagenham and gained planning permission in 2020 to deliver 12 sound stages on the Dagenham East site, with additional backlot space, which is a very much needed requirement for studios and all the ancillary, workshop and office space that goes with it.
“As well as Dagenham (Eastbrook Studios), our partners MBS Hackman are committed to delivering another project in Barking (The Wharf), which will deliver up to 18 stages by 2023 across Barking and Dagenham, which is going to feed into the Thames Estuary Production Corridor.
“This is a major employment boost for the Borough and the area will benefit from the global impact. It’s about putting the Borough and the Thames Estuary Production Corridor on the map.”
Sarah Dance, Chair of Creative Estuary, presented a short film to demonstrate the vision and ambition of the Creative Estuary project.
She said: “Across Essex and Kent from Southend to Margate, the Thames Estuary has untold creative potential. Our aim is to use culture as the catalyst for growth, helping to build a place for creative individuals and businesses to work, collaborate and grow.
“In doing so we hope to champion the next generation of creative talent and turn the region into one of the most exciting creative clusters in the world.”
Music Producer, Non-Executive Board Member of the Thames Estuary Growth Board and Creative Estuary Champion Ray Mia spoke of the need to embrace the highly skilled workforce already located in the area at the same time as attracting new talent from elsewhere.
He said: “As a creative industry professional that works not just across the UK but globally, I have chosen to live and work in this area. Eventually we want the Thames Estuary to be at the forefront of the UK’s film, TV and music industries where great productions are made.”
Max Farrell, Founder and CEO of the London Collective chaired the online event. He was also joined by Laura Bailey, Cultural Development Manager for Ebbsfleet Garden City.
Creative Estuary’s mission is to transform 60 miles of the Thames Estuary across Essex and Kent into one of the most exciting cultural hubs in the world.
Existing networks of creative businesses from design, gaming, fashion, filmmaking and music production, are already making a significant and growing contribution to the Estuary’s economy.
Creative Estuary is supported by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), Kent and Essex County Councils, the Greater London Authority, 11 local authority areas represented by Greater North Kent Partnership and Opportunity South Essex, South East Creative Economy Network (SECEN), University of Kent, University of Essex, Locate in Kent, and cultural organisations Metal, and Cement Fields.
It is part of the Government endorsed Thames Estuary Production Corridor (TEPC) project, initiated by the South East Creative Economy Network and Greater London Authority.