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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 January, 2004, 14:04 GMT
Valleywood work imminent
Richard Attenborough
Lord Attenborough is chairman of the studios project
After a year's delay, work on building a world class film studio in south Wales is ready to begin, according to the project's chairman Lord Attenborough.

The first phase of the 300m so-called Valleywood studios will be ready by the end of 2004, the Jurassic Park star revealed on Tuesday.

The delays on the Dragon International project have been blamed on getting planning permission and buying the land.

Since it was announced in late 2002, the scheme has been dogged by uncertainty, amid rumours it might move from its planned site at an old opencast mine at Llanilid, near Llantrisant, to the former LG factory in Newport.

But, speaking at his home in London, Lord Attenborough confirmed a definite timetable for work at the original Llanilid location.

"We will be ready with our five silent stages by the end of the summer this year," he said.

Camera
Big movie productions could be attracted to Wales

"About a year later, we will be building the first part of our massive studio operation, with seven sound stages.

"Those dates are OK.

"A year or 18 months later, we will be building the theme park which goes alongside, which again comes off the M4.

"It is an enormous operation, with huge sums of money," he added.

It is understood the land and planning permission deals were completed last Friday, leaving the way clear for building to start.

According to the industry, the need for new film studios is now pressing.

Figures released last week show that spending on film production in the UK reached a record high of more than 1bn.

Former LG Semicon site
It had been rumoured the scheme could switch to Newport

Dragon International says its new studios will be well-placed to reel in some of this work, bringing hundreds of jobs to Wales.

Plans include a 160-acre studio complex, sound stages, creative departments, and music recording studio.

Developers promised to create 1,710 jobs directly and forecast thousands more.

They pledged to re-train former miners and steelworkers for hands-on work in the film industry - a boost for Rhondda Cynon Taff, where the council worked hard to lure the prize project.




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