Search for new film studio site as bosses fear deal for Doncaster College High Melton site has collapsed
The firm behind plans to create a film studio at Doncaster College’s former High Melton are looking for an alternative site, fearing the deal is off.
Doncaster College announced in May 2018 that it was selling the site, previously home to some of its degree courses and performing arts courses, to 360 Degrees Media. It was to be used as the base for a special effects academy and a film studio.
But now the firm believes the High Melton site will be sold to another organisation and is looking for a site nearer the town centre. It says it is still committed to creating a major film studio in Doncaster, and wants to work with the college, whose chief executive says no final decision had been made.
Alistair Maclean-Clark, managing director of 360 Degree Media, understands the plan is off after the college put the site out to competitive tender earlier this year.
He believes it will be sold to another developer.
Mr Maclean-Clark said he understood the college had decided four months ago to put the site out to tender for other bidders, and it was now set to be developed by another firm.
He said not getting the High Melton site would be a blow, and the firm had done a lot of work in the area.
He said: "We are still looking for ways to work with the college, and we are still committed to the area.”
The firm had already been running classes in Doncaster at the former college arts school site at Church View.
During the coronavirus lockdown, those have largely been carried out online. Those will continue, and a production accountancy course is due to start soon.
Mr Maclean-Clark said the firm had developed courses at Church View over the last 18 months and was building business there.
He said they remained committed to developing a studio in Doncaster, and were looking at sites close to the town centre but were unable yet to reveal the exact site.
"We are still moving forward, but in a different location,” he said. “On that front, we’ve made some progress, but more central.
"The original plan was to create the sound stages and expand from there. We are still committed to the area, and to delivering that.
"We are looking at something that would be walking distance from town. We can create the sound stages but we won’t have the greenery and woodland that High Melton had to offer.
"So much is done with special effects now it shouldn’t be too limiting. There are areas outside the town centre where we can create backlot areas, for example if we wanted to create a woodland village.”
A backlot is an area on a studio site, containing permanent exterior buildings for outdoor scenes, or space for temporary set construction.
"Demand for studio space is still huge in the UK,” he said. “It has risen again after lockdown. The demand has not been quashed.
"There is a big skills shortage.”
Mick Lochran, chief executive at DN Colleges Group, which runs Doncaster College, was not available for interview but said: “No final decision has been taken about High Melton.”
Doncaster is famous as the location of shows including Still Open All Hours.