06:30PM, Wednesday 06 October 2021
Verity West (left) with Marlow MP Joy Morrissey
A volunteer group passionate about protecting Marlow’s greenbelt have raised fears over a proposed film studio project in the area.
Save Marlow’s Greenbelt is a new campaign launched by Verity West and a team of volunteers who fear that the town’s green areas are being lost to large-scale developments.
Guernsey-based firm Dido Property announced in June that it wanted to develop land next to the A404 Westhorpe junction – between Marlow and Little Marlow – into a ‘world-class’ film studio, promising 5,000 jobs.
A planning application for the project is due early next year.
But Save Marlow’s Greenbelt – backed by Beaconsfield MP Joy Morrissey – says it wants to raise awareness of the negative impact the plans would have on protected wildlife, traffic and flood risk.
They argue that the proposals go against relevant planning policies, with the studio planned to be built on private land within the Little Marlow Lakes Country Park.
The group has also raised concerns that the thousands of jobs promised will be outsourced to London and will not benefit local people.
“The greenbelt is a valuable resource and should be protected,” Verity said.
“It should only be built on in very special circumstances which these developments coming through do not qualify.
“It is very important that we look after it.”
Save Marlow’s Greenbelt is in the process of becoming a registered charity and has drummed up interest from other members of the nearby community in areas like Bourne End and Cookham.
“They [Dido Property] have got some massive hurdles to clear but are going all out and doing a shiny PR campaign to try and get public support,” Verity said.
“It is an exciting project, but it is in absolutely the wrong spot.
“Marlow does not have an employment problem – but we do have a traffic and air quality problem.
“The country park is a designated area and landowners should not be able to build on it. There are strict guidelines in the local plan.
“Once you concrete over greenbelt, it is gone forever.”
Robert Laycock, CEO of Dido Property, said: “This will be a very special project uniquely designed for the area and the UK to continue our global leadership in filmed-entertainment.
"We are confident in identifying broad support for this project, subject to answering specific concerns.
“We will provide full answers to these important questions in our planning application which is due early next year. We are asking the community to listen to the full details before coming to judgement.
“The planning process thrives on fair hearing and we look forward to bringing really exciting and innovative proposals to Marlow.”