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Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 19:13 GMT
'Valleywood' film studio approved
Film graphic
A multi-million pound state-of-the-art film studio complex has received the backing of a south Wales council.

Rhondda Cynon Taf councillors approved a planning application to build the 350m studios - dubbed Valleywood - in a disused open-cast mine at Llanilid between Cardiff and Bridgend.

The project would encompass film and television studios, a media centre, screen academy and film theme park and could eventually have a price tag of 1bn.

Our intention is to build the most modern, cost-effective and welcoming studios in the world

Lord Attenborough

Dragon International Studios Limited, chaired by film veteran Lord Richard Attenborough, has already bought 350 acres of the former mining site.

The planning approval does not mean the studios will definitely be built, but people at RCT are confident the project will be seen through.

Council leader and assembly member Paul Jarman said: "We have been working closely with the developers in RCT for 18 months.

"Our economic development team had to put the case - we were competing with six other locations so I think we have clearly made the economic case to the Welsh Assembly Government.

Open cast mine site at Llanilid
A deserted open cast mine is the studios' site
"We're hoping now that the developers, who I understand will be making an announcement tomorrow about what their intentions are, will convcince everyone that this is a serious project."

Plans for the studio were temporarily put on hold after the Welsh Assembly ordered the council to reject the planning application.

It had objected to a proposal for a new exit from the M4 motorway which would serve the studio complex.

But officials withdrew their objections after the local authority made an economic case for the project.

The developers said up to 1,000 workers would be employed during the construction phase, and a further 1,700 posts created when the complex was fully open.

Cutting edge

The film and studio complex, which would be constructed in two phases, would occupy an area of 160 acres and house seven sound stages with accompanying workshops

It would also provide a music recording studio, creative departments, office and service areas.

Dragon Studios has promised that the complex would be at the "cutting edge" of worldwide real time digital communication.

Lord Richard Attenborough
Lord Attenborough is supporting the plans
They plan to offer workspace to new and established businesses within the expanding Welsh IT industry.

The first phase of the project could be open by the end of 2004, with the adjoining all-weather theme park set to open in 2006.

An adjacent development by the Joseph Villard Partnership, which plans to build hotel accommodation, a conference centre, health spa and a new hospital as well as a series of business parks, would generate another 6,000 jobs.

Lord Attenborough said: "Our intention is to build the most modern, cost-effective and welcoming studios in the world, designed by practitioners for practitioners.

"In Wales we have the space, the funds and the technology - but most importantly the will - to create a wonderful work and leisure environment for future generations.

"It is a golden opportunity and one that fills me with great excitement."

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Lord Richard Attenborough
"There hasn't been a new studio in the UK for 50 years"

More from south east Wales
See also:

10 Aug 01 | Wales
20 Sep 02 | Wales
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