Ministers Failed To Carry Out Building Survey on £6.3 million Pinewood Site

August 7, 2018 By darya_admin

Ministers Failed To Carry Out Building Survey on £6.3 million Pinewood Site

Revealing the Welsh Government didn’t commission a buildings survey when buying the former energy building near Cardiff for conversion into studios for Pinewood.

Hidden repair costs had to be met once studio site was purchased

The setting up of world famous film makers Pinewood with a premises in Wales has so far not been the success hoped for by the Welsh Government.

It’s costing them considerable sums to keep open and, to compound the issue, comprehensive surveying wasn’t carried out before purchase that may have revealed repairs required to the roof that have subsequently cost £1 million to put right, and shown that the former energy building to the north east of Cardiff was lacking in certain attributes necessary for film making.

Valuation survey versus full building survey

The Welsh Government had a valuation survey undertaken but no building survey.

A valuation survey is just that; a survey undertaken to establish a value for a property. It’s common for lenders to arrange for a valuation survey so they aren’t lending money against a property that isn’t worth the sum the borrowers are seeking.

As a result, the survey is based more on market values than detailed structural issues and specifications. A full structural survey would be required to establish what remedial work may be needed, and a full building survey would record highly accurate measurements and specifications for the property and thus the structure’s suitability for the role it’s being put to.

A full measured building survey would, in conjunction with a structural survey, provide full and very detailed plans of the property and reveal potential problems. A measured building survey records exact measurements, provides floorpans often in 3D form, and even records smaller details such as where power outlets are situated.

In the case of the premises bought for Pinewood’s use it has been found the eaves aren’t high enough for the panoramic shots often used in filming so reducing its potential to a degree; a measured building survey would have likely revealed this and so highlighted it as a drawback.

Less of a star attraction than hoped for

Overall, the setting up of a studio site for such a world famous brand as Pinewood has been less successful than hoped for when the announcement was made amidst much optimism in early 2014 that the Welsh Government were buying and converting the former energy premises and renting it to Pinewood.

Along with the image building of having a famous name making films and other visual entertainment in Wales, it was thought hundreds of jobs would be created both directly and indirectly involved in film making, and many local businesses and other enterprises would benefit from Pinewood’s activities with potentially millions of pounds being added to the Welsh economy. This hasn’t yet proved to be the case.

The Welsh Government spent a total of £9.5 million in buying and fitting out the former energy centre and creating a site with 70,000 square feet of filming stages and a 50,000 square feet backlot area, but the lease to Pinewood was scrapped leaving the Government with a bill put at an estimated £392,000 per year to run the premises.

Not all bad news on the creative front

The Welsh Government maintain that, despite the travails of the studio development, having a world famous film making name such as Pinewood in Wales has had some ‘reflected glory’ for the Welsh film and television sector.

In conjunction with other filming facilities and studios in Wales such as Dragon Studios and Swansea Bay Studio, the Government claim over £113 million has been spent with over 3,500 jobs being created in the creative industries.

Famous film makers

The Pinewood name is linked to many famous film and television programmes including the evergreen James Bond franchise, and has studios in various locations including near London, the United States, Canada and Malaysia. The Welsh site has produced such entertainment as ‘Journey’s End,’ ‘Showdogs’ and the fourth series of the BBC’s very successful ‘Sherlock’.


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