Film studio planned for Plumstead in power station redevelopment

Plumstead power station
The historic building has most recently been used as a depot for Crossrail

A special effects film studio could be built inside the disused Plumstead power station under plans to be discussed by Greenwich councillors next week.

The town hall is set to pay up to £4.2 million to help Mo-Sys Engineering, which provides camera and special effects services for film and TV, move from its existing base at Morden Wharf in Greenwich to the Edwardian building off White Hart Road.

In return, Mo-Sys plans to open eight studio stages, which could be hired out by producers or researchers, or for community events.

“Together, Mo-Sys and the council will build a globally respected media hub and centre of film production with wide-ranging positive impacts on the Plumstead area,” a paper to go before the council’s cabinet next Wednesday says.

Mo-Sys will promise to create 16 new jobs as part of the project, as well as have 16 start-up businesses operating from the property. A further 16 construction jobs will be created to convert the site.

The building has always been in town hall hands, after being opened in 1903 as a power station and refuse incinerator. It later became a council depot and has most recently been used by Crossrail.

Mo-Sys would take a 150-year lease on the building and pay for its renovation, with the company having to match-fund its cash from the council.

Its base at Morden Wharf is due for demolition as part of the redevelopment of the site for 1,500 homes. Planning documents for Morden Wharf indicated that Mo-Sys was originally looking to stay in another location on the site.

The company’s technology has been used in Olympics coverage from both the BBC and Discovery, with camera tracking systems installed in the BBC’s Salford base to provide backdrops which can change during the day.

Mo-Sys also works closely with Ravensbourne University, its neighbour on the peninsula.

Half of the council’s contribution will come from an agreement with Berkeley Homes, which recently started work on hundreds of new homes off Griffin Manor Way in Thamesmead.

As part of a Section 106 agreement – payments from developers to mitigate their impact on the local area – Berkeley agreed to pay £2.4 million towards the project when councillors approved the scheme in December 2020.

The report warns that if Berkeley is late delivering the new homes then the council could be on the hook for the cash.

Another £330,000 will come from a grant from City Hall’s Good Growth Fund, which is also being used to smarten up Plumstead High Street.

The council says it wants to encourage “film, IT and broadcast growth” in the borough; however, plans for a film studio on the Greenwich Peninsula were ditched in 2020 after City Hall backed a plan for a studio in Dagenham.

The council’s cabinet – its senior decision-making body – will discuss the plan next Wednesday.

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