‘Largest film studio in Ireland’ being built in Mullingar
A planning application to build what will become Ireland’s largest film studio campus has taken a significant step forward with confirmation of approval by Westmeath County Council on July 12.
In accordance with Section 34(6) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), the application has been approved by officials. Subject to a material contravention of the County Development Plan, the final decision to grant permission will rest with the elected members of the council in September.
The application, submitted by Hammerlake Studios in May, is for a purpose-built film, television and content production campus on a 25-acre site at Lough Sheever Corporate Park in Mullingar.
Hammerlake Studios aim to attract the world’s biggest film and content productions from Hollywood and across the globe.
Hammerlake executives expect significant benefits for local and national businesses, services, education and creative arts professionals. An estimated €50 million will be generated annually for the local economy, and hospitality and other local services and businesses should benefit.
Construction will take place over two phases. Phase one, totalling 236,000 square feet, will comprise four studios or ‘sound stages’ suitable for large-scale film and television production, an administrative building, workshops, data technology centres, editing rooms, food, fitness and other amenities.
Construction is estimated to take 12 months and film production operations are to commence from the first quarter of 2024. Some 350 production jobs and 300 construction jobs will be created in phase one. Phase two, which will be submitted for planning approval in summer 2023, is for an additional seven studios, taking the total footprint to 460,000 square feet.
Hammerlake estimate a minimum of 1,000 production jobs on full commencement of phase two operations in 2025.
The Hammerlake Studios leadership team are film industry experts with 60-plus years of experience at Universal Pictures, Disney and Troy Studios.
Local residents, community, officials and film industry leaders were consulted and the planning application was developed by a team of local, national, and international experts with planning, design, project management, sustainability, film, and content production experience.
Executive film producers from North America with international and domestic credentials informed the campus layout and design.
Paul Chesney, chief executive officer, Hammerlake Studios, said: “We are excited by the decision by Westmeath County Council to grant us planning in principle. It represents a significant step forward in our plans to build a world class film and content production facility in Mullingar, one capable of accommodating the biggest and best film productions.
“The Hammerlake Studios campus will showcase the beauty and welcome of Ireland and its local community, along with the scale and landscape of a vibrant working studio, where content makers will want to work time and time again.
“Ours will not just be a functional service oriented working studio, but a destination that delivers everything a production entity will ever need, from creative support, technology and equipment, secure data capabilities, along with first class catering and off-stage filming capability all in one campus.
“As new broadcast platforms continue to announce international expansion plans, it’s an exciting time to be part of this industry and our chosen destination is primed to be a lead player and preferred option for content makers everywhere.”
The design of the new studio places a high emphasis on creative technologies, including virtual capabilities, to accommodate large-scale and high-end digital productions.
On sustainability, the Hammerlake Studios design provides for insulated building fabric to decrease heat loss, mechanical and smart technology systems to ensure minimal operational energy consumption, water saving and harvesting equipment, low power density lighting and electric vehicle charging. Solar panels on site will reduce grid dependency, while any required electricity will be from green sources.
Tom Dowling, director of development and studio operations at Hammerlake Studios, said: “We sincerely thank our design team and everyone who has assisted us in making the planning application. Our plans have received tremendous support from the local chamber of commerce, political leaders and Westmeath County Council.
“While there are three relatively large studio facilities in the Republic of Ireland, the global demand for studio space has been exceptionally high in recent years, and the close proximity of Mullingar to Dublin, its excellent road and rail network, the young workforce and the range of quality hotels matched our criteria for the location of our new sustainable and green film campus.
“While Ireland’s audio-visual sector industry has enormous growth potential, skills and talent development are crucial to its continued success. In tandem with developing our new studio, we will facilitate a series of information evenings from September to identify people in the region with a transferable skillset and arrange training in conjunction with training agencies.
“Hammerlake Studios present an incredible opportunity for Mullingar and we can’t wait to start.”