Monday, April 11, 2011

Ballyhenry's Seven Year Itch

Almost seven years ago - July 2004 - Joe O'Connell of Universal Innovations received planning permission for a new film studio complex at Ballyhenry outside Ashford in Co. Wicklow. It was during a period of hotly contested and heavily politicised planning matters debated by Wicklow County Council.

It was said that Ardmore Studios had given its blessing to the new development and would move to the new site but this was later disputed. There were vocal concerns expressed about Ardmore's loss to the local economy in Bray and in October 2004 the permission for the new studio complex was rescinded by the county council.

In November 2009 World 2000 Entertainment was granted permission for change of use of warehousing on the same (now smaller) site just off the M11 and some 35km south of Dublin. These were commercial buildings that were built under the terms of the original July 2004 permission, perhaps with a view to later conversion under change of use, if it were (as it subsequently was) granted.

The November 2009 permission also allows for additional modular buildings for ancilliary studio services to be located on an adjoining site owned by Wicklow County Council: Change of use of approved warehouse building (Reg Refs 04/474 and 09/629) from warehouse use to use as a film making facility, together with use of adjoining Wicklow County Council lands for purposes ancillary to film making to include single storey modular buildings to accommodate set construction - paint shop, plaster shop, metal shop, timber shop, electrical, special effects, chemical store, set assembly, staff canteen and toilets, totalling approx 2536 sqm with associated car parking (approx 40 car spaces) and truck delivery / set down area. Inchanappa South, Ballyhenry, Ashford, Co. Wicklow.

The permission allows for a more realistic 120 car spaces and it came with a particular condition with respect to the ancilliary buildings: The permission for the proposed 3 No. workshops and associated canteen and toilets and holding tanks shall be for a period of 5 (five) years from the date of this order. The workshops and canteen and toilets and holding tanks shall be removed at the end of this period unless, prior to the end of this period, planning permission has been granted for retention for a further period.

The new sound stages will considerably improve on what Ardmore has to offer and if they are up and running in time for, say, a second Camelot series later this year, one would have to wonder if there is enough incoming production spend to support two full-time studio operations?

Would the Irish Film Board be likely to financially support Ardmore again if it were to find itself in difficulty, or perhaps Ballyhenry is Ardmore MKII and the historical Ardmore/National Film Studios of Ireland facility is finally succumbing to obsolescence?

Ballyhenry Film Studios


Anonymous said...

Does using this facilitydue to distances travelled fall within the new SPI agreement or will they need to build a Hotel for all the Crew and up the Budgets for Per Diems ?

irish film portal said...


I would imagine that its distance from the GPO has been measured to the millimeter and found to fall within the radial enforcement zone!

Anonymous said...

You would think but the agreement states that the Production Base msy be located withing 24km of the GPO and according to AA Autoroute, the shortest route from GPO to new studios is 50km+

irish film portal said...

I think there's a Greater Dublin Zone it will fit in without much difficulty.

ps AA route planner often takes the long way round!

john said...

As a crew member and worker in this industry I would Gladys travel to new studio to work and as a siptu member I will make my feeling know to anyone

irish film portal said...

I'm sure you're not alone, John.

I think what may become crucial in respect of the agreement will be a determination of where exactly the 'production base' is for any production using the new studio.

I'll have to re-read the agreement but I would have thought that any production base in the 'zone' and close to its southern edge will not incur additional costs (per diems etc) if the shoot is just a couple of miles down the M11 in the new studio.