Quartermaster Studios, Purfleet

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(Revised Feb 2024)



purfleet-location-map 450p
Above indicates where you will find Purfleet.  Below is the proposed development.  The three large grey boxes are film stages.  The D-shaped building to the lower left of them is the TV studio block, planned to contain three or four multicamera TV studios.


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Above – a schematic view of the proposed studios.  The film stages are in the foreground – the TV studios are in the block on the middle left.


I’m writing this paragraph in February 2024 – more than a decade after I first added these studios to this website.  I think it is fair to say that I assumed by now they would be up and running.  To be honest, it does look as though this scheme is now a dead duck but you never know!  If you are able to send me any information – in confidence – as to its current progress then please do contact me.


In May 2013 outline planning permission was granted for a highly ambitious plan to completely transform the centre of Purfleet including the area that fronts the Thames.  If you’re scratching your head and thinking – ‘Hmm Purfleet. I’m sure I’ve heard of it but not sure exactly where…’ Let me explain.  If you follow the Thames out of London, just before the M25 crosses the river, on the northern bank – that’s Purfleet.  It is, incidentally, only half an hour by train from Fenchurch St Station.

It is, to be frank, not the most beautiful part of London at present, with a number of old industrial buildings and lots of undeveloped brownfield sites.  The plan was to turn all this into a thriving centre with shops, offices, riverside marina and – studios!  Not just film stages but fully equipped TV studios.  Proper ones of a decent size that could replace some of those lost in London over the previous decade.  It’s not clear from the plans quite how many but I have heard that 3 – 4 large TV studios and about half a dozen sound stages were proposed.

Each phase of the scheme would have to submit a detailed planning application, known as a ‘reserved matter’ application.  So far, only some housing has been fully approved.  The next proposals include major road building and the construction of schools, a new railway station, shops and more housing.  The film and TV studios are way down the list so realistically, a reserved matter application for them would not be expected for a few years yet, going by the rate of progress in the rest of the scheme.


The TV studios and sound stages, along with supporting workshops and offices, were planned to total an impressive 135,000 sq metres. The desire to include studios and associated facilities was very much driven by the local council, who regarded this as a key aspect of the whole scheme.  They saw it tying in with the existing Backstage Centre – a very well equipped training base associated with South Essex College.  A company called Quartermaster were associated with the studio side of the project from the beginning but I have been told that the speed of development (or rather, the lack of it) was driven by the Council and the developer rather than Quartermaster, who I was informed would have loved to have been up and running long ago.  Quartermaster are now involved in the new HOP studios in Bedfordshire.


At the time they were announced, these plans were not universally welcomed.  The local MP, Jackie Doyle-Price is quoted as saying  ‘I don’t think that the proposals for TV and film studios are in any way viable.  The proximity to the Channel Tunnel Rail link generates noise which makes filming impossible.  This is well known to the developers.  It is therefore of genuine surprise to me that the proposals remain part of this planning application.’ 

I haven’t visited the area so I don’t know how much noise is created by the railway but I do know that several other studios are located near sources of background noise.  The Pinewood stages on the East Lot are visible from the M25, and Winnersh and Shinfield Studios are also next to motorways.  The old stages at Twickenham are next to a main line track.  The new Wycombe Film Studios are on an airfield and Farnborough Studios are also close to a busy runway.  Even TC1 at TV Centre has a tube train viaduct and a busy road right next to it so I really don’t think it’s impossible to build sound stages and TV studios with effective soundproofing.


So maybe, just maybe, these studios will actually be constructed one day.  However, the opportunity to ride on the success of the British film and TV industry does seem to have been missed by those responsible for enabling the scheme to proceed.  And even if they do go ahead, I think the chances of the scheme including multicamera TV studios is vanishingly small, looking at how the demand for such studios has reduced in recent years.