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Belfast City Council gives go-ahead for £45m Harbour film studios investment


Belfast Harbour film studios are to undergo a major expansion

Belfast Harbour film studios are to undergo a major expansion

Belfast Harbour film studios are to undergo a major expansion

Belfast Harbour has now secured planning permission for a £45m investment to its film studios - currently hosting a movie starring Nicole Kidman.

Belfast City Council confirmed it had given the green light to the construction of phase two of the studios at Giant's Park on the North Foreshore.

The Harbour has said it is monitoring demand in the market - and in June a spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph that the expansion was "under review".

Earlier this month, chief executive Joe O'Neill said Belfast Harbour was hopeful it would get the go-ahead.

But he said that afterwards "we absolutely have to look at what market demand looks like".

He added that "if the market prospects appear strong to us then we are committed to make further investments in that sector".

Its plans include additional film studios/sound stages, workshops and offices, as well as car parking and landscaping.

Now the council's planning committee has given the thumbs-up to the plans after the application was lodged in February.

It is expected that the project would bring 200 construction jobs and ultimately support 1,000 creative industry jobs.

DUP councillor John Hussey, chairman of the planning committee, said: "This is great news for the city, it will create 1,200 jobs and boost Belfast's flourishing film and creative sectors."

Production work on The Northman, a Viking-era drama starring Nicole Kidman, was suspended at the outset of the pandemic.

As well as in Belfast Harbour, filming is also due to take place at Torr Head in Co Antrim, where a model Viking village has been built.

Speaking last month, Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane said she was pleased to see the filming take place in her area.

"It is a privilege that we live where we do and it is great to see more and more of the media industry using this remote area," she said.

The Northman is set in Iceland at the turn of the 10th century and is directed by Robert Eggers. The revenge drama also stars Claes Bang, Alexander Skarsgard and Willem Dafoe.

Filming of BBC police drama Line of Duty was also suspended as a result of the pandemic.

Northern Ireland's creative industry has been building on the success of fantasy drama series Game Of Thrones, which was partly filmed there between 2011 and 2019.

Belfast City Council has also given an update on the work of the planning committee over the last year.

The council said that in the last 12 months, it had granted approval to 1,300 new homes, 519 applications from householders, five new hotels and a new Children's Hospital.

The total number of applications received was 2,738 - an almost 12% increase from the same period the previous year (2,426).

Thirty-two major applications were submitted, with 29 processed during the period, compared to 23 for the same period last year. The average processing time for planning applications received was 37 weeks.

Belfast Telegraph