This year is going to be a great one for film and television in Hertsmere, the chairman of Elstree Studios has said.
Councillor Morris Bright, who leads Hertsmere Borough Council and chairs Elstree Studios, is “delighted” at today's announcement by the BBC that it plans to expand the set of EastEnders at neighbouring BBC Elstree.
He said: “I am very pleased the BBC has decided to stay put.
“The BBC’s decision to expand the EastEnders set will bring jobs and money into the area and shows Elstree and Borehamwood will remain an important place for TV and film production for many years to come.
“It also quashes rumours that the studios were going to be closed down and used for housing, which will keep down concerns about overdevelopment in the area.”
The announcement comes just a few days after a bill to make it easier to close roads for filming in Hertfordshire passed its third reading in the House of Commons, meaning it will soon become law.
The bill was funded by Hertsmere Council, Hertfordshire County Council and Elstree Studios and pushed through the house by Hertsmere MP James Clappison.
When it is passed, film companies wishing to close a road will be able to apply for a film notice from the county council, closing the road for 24 hours with only 24 hours notice.
Councillor Bright said film companies often needed to close roads quickly because of weather conditions, and the inability to so in Hertfordshire had cost the county a lot of money.
He made it clear the new law was not a licence to close roads but would bring great economic benefits to the county.
He said: “We have lost films like Blockbuster Red 2 starring Catherine Zeta Jones and Bruce Willis to London because we couldn’t get the roads closed in time.
“Film companies spend on average £32,000 a day in an area when they are filming on location, and TV production companies spend £19,000.
“This law means big budget films will now come to Hertfordshire instead of us losing them to London or Kent where such laws are in place."
Cllr Bright added the small size of Elstree Studios limited the amount of work film companies could do there, but this law would mean production companies would base themselves at Elstree while filming on location in the county.
“I first put this idea forward three years ago. It has taken a lot of time but this joint effort has finally paid off and secured Hertfordshire’s place at the top of the film and television industry.”