Bovingdon Market could permanently close after more than 20 years due to plans for TV and film studios at former RAF airfield
The former RAF airfield has become a popular site for filming in recent years
One of England’s most popular markets could permanently close under new plans to build permanent film and TV studios on the former RAF airfield.
The proposals would also see extra backlot space on the current Bovingdon Market site, ending more than 20 years of trading.
Dacorum Borough Council will decide on Thursday, September 2, whether to recommend the plans, although the Secretary of State will have the final say on all large scale major developments.
The application was first submitted in October 2020, with revised plans submitted to the borough council in June 2021.
The former RAF airfield has become a popular site for filming in recent years, with the site home to one ITV studio which hosts the filming of Dancing on Ice and The Masked Singer, while blockbusters Bohemian Rhapsody and Star Wars Rogue One have also used the location.
The new plans will see more permanent options for production companies wanting to use the site.
Three permanent studios will be built, as well as the creation of ‘backlot space’ to allow for the construction of further film sets or temporary studios. The airfield’s former control tower will also be converted into offices.
These are separate to plans submitted earlier this summer for a temporary studio for six months between September and May, which does not impact the market. A similar arrangement was in place last year.
The ‘backlot’ area will be located on the land currently used for Bovingdon Market, and will give production companies space to erect temporary structures or film sets to meet their needs.
Any temporary buildings or sets will be on site for a maximum of 18 months at a time, according to submitted planning documents.
The developers say that the amount of people on site will vary depending on the project and stage of production, but staff will be instructed to take a specific route to the airfield that has been “selected to minimise impact on the surrounding area”.
Council officers are recommending that members vote to delegate the decision with a view to approve. As the airfield is deemed a major development, the decision will then be sent to the Secretary of State for final approval.
The officers’ report says, if approved, Bovingdon Market will cease trading within 18 months from the date planning permission is granted.
It would bring to an end more than two decades years of the market, which is thought to be one of the busiest weekend markets in the country.
Despite acknowledging the closure of the market would mean a loss of a “modest contribution” to the local economy, the report also says there would be benefits from the closure of the market.
It notes that the loss of other local markets have resulted in Bovingdon becoming more popular in recent years, and it “markedly exceeds the capacity of local infrastructure at peak times.”
The report continues that this has an impact on local residents, adding the council, Hertfordshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Highways have needed to intervene on occasions in the past.
Officers have concluded that the benefits from the proposal outweigh the harms of building on the green belt, and adherence to a Noise Management Plan means, “it is not considered that there would be any significant adverse impacts on the residential amenity of nearby residents”.
Councillors on Dacorum’s Development Management Committee will have their say on the proposals on Thursday, September 2.