Community concern in wake of Twickenham Film Studios closure

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1966 film Alfie was a Twickenham production

By Sara Kennedy

St Margarets residents are concerned the Twickenham Film Studios closure could bring on more housing development.

Speculation is mounting after a freelance worker at the studios, set to close this June, told the Richmond and Twickenham Times that selling the studios to property developers was the “easiest option” for the current owners.

Administrator Begbies Traynor is dealing with the sale and firm spokesman Gerald Krasner has said the building is unlikely to be maintained as a film studio by any new owners, although the final decision on the future use of the site will be determined by Richmond upon Thames Council.

Peter Mahnke, who runs the St Margarets Community Website, said: “We have far too many children trying to get into local schools and huge parking issues, so more flats is painful for most.”

Mr Mahnke added: “I think people assume the council will do the wrong thing after the fiasco of the Twickenham station vote, where they supported development over what local people wanted and their own policy not to build over four stories.”

But Councillor Geoff Acton, who represents the St Margarets Ward, said the site is designated for employment in the Urban Development Plan, so the council will want to try and maintain some employment there.

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“Developers are likely to be most interested in housing, but being such a large site a lot of new flats would cause local infrastructure problems, so mixed use would be preferable,” he said.

“We are short of school places in the borough and this could be an appropriate site for a new primary or secondary school.

“The least favoured option would be yet another supermarket and the site is probably not suited to another budget hotel.”

The studios were built in 1913 and are still considered one of the country’s best film-making facilities alongside Pinewood and Shepperton Studios.

Over a 99 year history, the studio has been used by the Beatles to film their smash hits A Hard Days Night and Help and in 1965 Michael Caine starred there as a Cockney Womaniser in Alfie.

Many films were made at the studios during the 1980s including A Fish Called Wanda, Shirley Valentine, An American Werewolf in Paris and Blade Runner.

Most recently, the studios were used in the production of War Horse, The Iron Lady and My Week with Marilyn.

Simon Chapman, Resident and Chair of the St Margarets Traders Association, said: “It is sad when any business closes and we’ll all miss the studios.”
 

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