27 May 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
Westmeath County Council grants approval to first phase of Mullingar film studio
19 Jul 2022 : Nathan Griffin
Hammerlake Studios
A planning application, which was submitted by Hammerlake Studios earlier this year, to build the first phase of a “world class” film and television production venue in Mullingar has been granted approval by Westmeath County Council.

The plans have moved a step closer now as the local authorities announced it is considering contravening their county development plan in an effort to greenlight the proposal. The studio must now pass a vote by Westmeath County Councillors who must decide whether to grant permission for the development. The final decision on this will be made in September.

The application, submitted by Hammerlake Studios in May, will see a purpose-built film, television and content production campus constructed on a 25-acre site at Lough Sheever Corporate Park, Mullingar, Co Westmeath. Located 55-minutes from Dublin Airport and adjacent to the M4 motorway, the Hammerlake Studios campus aims to attract the world’s biggest film and content productions from Hollywood and across the globe.

Hammerlake Studios’ executives have signalled significant benefits for local and national businesses, services, education and creative arts professionals. An estimated €50 million will be generated annually for the local Mullingar economy from phase one of the studio, with hospitality and other local services and businesses set to benefit.

Construction will take place over two phases.

Phase one, totalling 236,000 square-feet, will comprise four sound stages suitable for large-scale film and television production, an administrative building, workshops, data technology centres, editing rooms, food, fitness, and other amenities. Construction is estimated to take 12-months with film production operations to commence from the first quarter of 2024.

350 production jobs and 300 construction jobs will be created in phase one.

Phase two, which will be submitted for planning approval in Summer 2023, will see an additional seven studios added to the campus, bringing the total footprint to 460,000 square- feet. Hammerlake estimates a minimum of 1,000 production jobs upon full commencement of phase two operations in 2025.

Hammerlake Studios’ leadership team are film industry experts with over 60-years’ experience developed at Universal Pictures, Disney, and Troy Studios.

According to the organisation, local residents, community, officials, and film industry leaders were consulted ahead of the application. The planning application was developed by a team of local, national, and international experts with planning, design, project management, sustainability, film, and content production experience. While executive film producers from North America with international and domestic credentials informed the campus’ layout and design.

Welcoming the announcement, Paul Chesney, Chief Executive Officer, Hammerlake Studios said: “We are excited by the decision by Westmeath County Council to grant us planning in principle. It represents a significant step forward in our plans to build a world class film and content production facility in Mullingar, one capable of accommodating the biggest and best film productions.

“The Hammerlake Studios campus will showcase the beauty and welcome of Ireland and its local community, along with the scale and landscape of a vibrant working studio, where content makers will want to work time and time again,” Chesney added. “Ours will not just be a functional service oriented working studio, but a destination that delivers everything a production entity will ever need, from creative support, technology and equipment, secure data capabilities, along with first class catering and off-stage filming capability all in one campus.

“As new broadcast platforms continue to announce international expansion plans, it’s an exciting time to be part of this industry and our chosen destination is primed to be a lead player and preferred option for content makers everywhere.”

The design of the new studio places a high emphasis on creative technologies, including virtual capabilities, to accommodate large-scale and high-end digital productions.

On sustainability, Hammerlake Studios’ design provides for insulated building fabric to decrease heat loss, mechanical and smart technology systems to ensure minimal operational energy consumption, water saving and harvesting equipment, low power density lighting and electric vehicle charging. Solar panels on site will reduce grid dependency, while any required electricity will be from green sources.

Outlining its approach, Tom Dowling, Director of Development and Studio Operations at Hammerlake Studios said: “We sincerely thank our design team and everyone who has assisted us in making the planning application. Our plans have received tremendous support from the local Chamber of Commerce, political leaders and the Westmeath County Council.

“While Ireland has three relatively large studio facilities in the Republic of Ireland, the global demand for studio space has been exceptionally high in recent years. Mullingar’s close proximity to Dublin, its excellent road and rail network, the young workforce and the range of quality hotels matched our criteria for the location of our new sustainable and green film campus.

“While Ireland’s audio-visual sector industry has enormous growth potential, skills and talent development are crucial to its continued success. In tandem with developing our new studio, we will facilitate a series of information evenings from September to identify people in the region with a transferable skillset and arrange training in conjunction with training agencies. Hammerlake Studios presents an incredible opportunity for Mullingar and we can’t wait to start.”

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