Pinewood, Peel and the greenbelt

Wrangles over studio continue.

by Jennie Kermode

After Mohammed El Fayed stepped back from the battle, another contender has now stepped between Peel Holdings and its aim to take control of Pinewood Studios, home of the Harry Potter and James Bond franchises. Jewellery chain Warren James is increasing its stake in the studio to the point where, though it is not aiming for full control itself, it will be able to veto the Peel bid. Although no spokesperson was available for comment, it is understood that Warren James' intention is to raise the share price and the value of its own assets. Thus financial interests are taking centre stage whilst Pinewood continues to struggle, unable to undertake important redevelopment work because of its insecure situation.

The flip side of this is that the uncertainty means Pinewood is also unable to press its bit to develop local greenbelt land, which it wants to turn into 'living sets' designed to look like key locations from around the world. Local residents are strongly opposed to the idea, which they say would threaten local wildlife, and Envitonment Secretary Caroline Spelman has pledged to try and stop the development. Pinewood argue that the development would be eco-friendly and would create 600 to 900 jobs.

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