Work has started to create the North East’s first dedicated large-scale film and TV studios at The Northern School of Art’s Hartlepool campus – with doors due to open for business in six months.

Work has started to create the North East’s first dedicated large-scale film and TV studios at The Northern School of Art’s Hartlepool campus – with doors due to open for business in six months.

The £3.76million project will create The Northern Studios, a new 30,000 sq. ft. film and television studio development for commercial use – alongside a new teaching building to support specialist technical and skills training for undergraduates studying on the School’s stage and screen degrees.

Artist’s impression of the finished Studios (Credit: Logic Architecture)

The new studios will be open by summer 2021 and will repurpose the town’s former bus maintenance sheds which are located next to the School’s campus.

The Northern Studios have been developed with industry specialists and will cater for professional film and television productions companies making movies and high-end TV programming. The studios are ideally located for productions to use as a base for interior set shoots whilst allowing them to take advantage of the wonderful coastal, rural, urban, industrial and heritage locations offered by the region – all within easy reach.

It is anticipated that the studios will be a catalyst for the creation of a cluster of businesses that supply the screen industries, from equipment hire through to catering, transport and building supplies. The area and the Studios also potentially offer opportunities for local employment for the School’s graduates, establishing themselves as film makers, costume designers or set designers.

The Northern Studios is a collaborative project funded by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, including £1million of Local Growth Funding from HM Government, working in partnership with Hartlepool Borough Council, on whose former land the studios are being created.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen says that this new development will help to support our fantastic creative sector and create good-quality well paid jobs for local people eager to work within TV and film. He adds, “It will go even further in training our students, giving them practical, hands-on experience as the industry as well as showing them they don’t need to leave the region for a successful career in their field.”

Illuminations on the front of the former bus maintenance sheds next to The Northern School of Art’s campus that are being repurposed to create The Northern Studios (Credit: The Northern School of Art)

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Chair of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Regeneration Services Committee, says, “We look forward to Hartlepool growing into an important centre of creative excellence in film and television, building a reputation both nationally and around the world.”

Principal of The Northern School of Art, Dr Martin Raby adds, “I am most grateful for the continuing efforts of all of our staff who, despite the challenges of a difficult year, continue to show ambition and optimism for our students and local creative communities. The idea to create the Studios came from two of our specialist lecturing staff – Norman Austick and Mike Boyle – who specialise in production, set and prop design and filmmaking respectively.
“The ongoing COVID-19 restrictions mean that life is far from normal at present but the fact that this exciting development, as well as our new Middlesbrough campus, will be open for the 2021-22 academic year really gives us something to look forward to.”

The Northern Studios form part of the development of a new ‘creative district’ in Hartlepool which incorporates The BIS – a Grade II-listed building providing 28 serviced studios for a growing network of small to medium size creative businesses.

Matthew Wharton, a director of Wharton Construction, says, “As a North East company, we are proud to be appointed lead contractor on such a prestigious and high-profile project in this region.”

The delivery team for the project includes Tees Valley-based Wharton Construction as the lead contractor for the project, quantity surveyors Driver Trett Group and Middlesbrough-based Logic Architects. The project managers are Faithful and Gould.

The Northern Studios will be operated by a new company – The Northern Studios (Hartlepool) Ltd – which will have board representation from industry as well as Tees Valley Combined Authority, The Northern School of Art and Hartlepool Borough Council.

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