Hopes for hundreds of movie jobs as Doncaster film studio plan gets green light

High Melton College is set to be transformed into a major film studio
High Melton College is set to be transformed into a major film studio

Doncaster College has agreed a deal which will see its former High Melton site transformed into an international film and television studio.

Bosses at the college have today confirmed they will be selling the site, previously home to some of its degree courses and performing arts courses, to the firm 360 Degrees Media, who will also use the base for a special effects academy.

It opens the door to the shooting of high end television drama and films in the borough and the deal, which is expected to create over 1,000 jobs, has been described as 'game changing' for Doncaster.

Andy Tuscher, chairman of the governors at DN Colleges Group, which runs Doncaster College, said: “We are thrilled that 360 Degrees Media is investing to bring this innovative and creative industry to our doorstep. As well as directly benefiting our communities through local investment and employment, our collaboration brings an exciting range of choice for students planning a career in the media industry. We will also see wider investment across the cvollege, as funds generated by the sale of the campus will support our reinvestment across the College, benefitting all our students.”

Anne Tyrrell, Chief executive at the colleges added: “We are tremendously excited about the impact this investment and collaboration will bring to our students both locally and regionally. This is a truly transformational opportunity, enabling us to deliver a dynamic and inspirational creative media curriculum while putting Doncaster at the heart of the UK’s media sector, directly contributing to a strong and prosperous economic future for our region.”

Coun Bill Mordue, Doncaster Council's cabinet member for business, skills and economic development described the announcement as fantastic news for Doncaster.

He said: "This will not only create jobs and growth for Doncaster’s economy but also encourage more young people to pursue a career in the Film and TV industry.

“During 2017, £1.6 billion was spent on the UK TV and film projects. This shows that this is a thriving industry. We are ambitious for Doncaster and fully support the creation of this new site in Doncaster that will create more than 1,000 jobs for the borough.”

Last month the council said it would apply for a £4.1 million grant from the Sheffield City Region investment fund for the project.

As part of the project, a computer generated special effects academy would be set up in partnership with the college, which experts say will help to address a current skills shortfall in the industry of 10,000 people.

Work to build on parts of the site for the project is expected to start early in 2019 if everything goes smoothly, although some activity could happen in existing buildings before then.

The new facilities at High Melton are expected to increase studio capacity across the UK by nine per cent and address the sector skills shortage by up to a third.

By launching the special effects work at High Melton, film producers will be able to create their films end-to-end on site, simplifying schedules and reducing production costs. The model is designed to attract a wide range of UK and US film and TV productions and establish Doncaster as a leading hub for media production.

The collaboration will give the college exclusive access and use of the facilities to train up to 570 students per year. The academy, which will be called The VFX Academy will become one of the largest creative centres in the country, says the college.

Alistair Maclean-Clark, chief executive at 360 Degrees Media, said: "The UK film and TV production sector has seen record inward investment in recent years and going forward, Doncaster will be at the centre of this growing industry with huge future potential. This unique collaboration with Doncaster College and the region itself, will also ensure that this growth is boosted by state of the art production facilities and a strong supply of skilled individuals. It is intended that High Melton will become a creative hub for the industry whilst also attracting production companies and film-makers to base themselves within the creative ecosystem on site.”

Dan Fell, chief executive of Doncaster Chamber of Commerce, described the plan as "game changing" for Doncaster, support the diversification of the borough’s economy.