Purpose, the flexible workspace provider, has taken on the 201,285 sq. ft former headquarters of the UK Jehovah’s Witnesses, which it is turning into a state-of-the-art film studio.
London North Studios in Mill Hill will be one of the largest filming spaces in Greater London and be able to cater for everything from small-scale productions to blockbuster films.
A production by Sky has already taken some of the studio space and Purpose has had further interest from a multi-million-pound production as well as streaming companies.
The studios will provide much-needed supply to an in-demand market. According to property consultant CBRE, streaming companies and production firms are currently seeking around two million sq. ft of studio space across the UK. Central London space is particularly in demand – which has driven rents higher.
Netflix alone doubled its spend on UK productions last year to $1bn, and has suggested it will continue investing in the area.
Dan Cohen, Founder at Purpose, said:
“We decided to launch London North Studios in response to the soaring demand for high-quality filming space close to central London – demand which is not currently being met.”
“The new studios will also add new interest to this corner of the capital – creating cultural cachet and job opportunities.”
Purpose has prior experience in delivering high quality shoot locations.
Music stars including Ed Sheeran, Stormzy and Jorja Smith have all filmed videos at its other creative workspaces in Bethnal Green, Borough, King’s Cross and Tottenham.
The site of the new studios previously served as the main offices of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ UK branch.
A separate building nearby housed the publishing and package factory for its publications, including The Watchtower – the most widely distributed magazine in the world.
Prior to its sale by the religious group, around one million magazines a day were being published on site.
The building, which is located 5 minutes from the M1 Junction 2 and 7 minutes from the North Circular, will be repurposed to provide flexible filming and event space, with five studios and four offices.
There is also a 300-person dining hall, commercial kitchen and 18 hair and costume rooms. The site contains five acres of outdoor space, including a one-acre woodland, and extensive parking facilities. The scale of the project means it will be able to offer space at a competitive price.
The deal comes amid a spate of new studios launching in London to meet the jump in demand for streaming content during Covid-19. This includes two new studios being built in Barking and Dagenham, and one industrial conversion in Enfield.
Inward investment from major film production in the UK increased by 31% over the five years to 2019/20 and January to March 2021 saw the second highest production spend on record over a three-month period, according to government figures.
Investment into screen content production is being supported by the British Government. In the 2020 Budget it awarded £4.8m to the British Film Commission (BFC) to help it promote the UK as a destination of choice for investors.
London North Studios will add to the area’s existing cinematic pedigree. Mill Hill barracks were used when shooting Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011), starring Gary Oldman and Colin Firth, and An Education (2009), starring Carey Mulligan.