Bovingdon Market closure moves step closer after councillors back plans for new film studios

The fate of the popular market lies in the hands of the Secretary of State for final approval

Friday, 24th September 2021, 1:08 pm
Updated Friday, 24th September 2021, 1:10 pm

The closure of Bovingdon Market has moved a step closer after councillors backed plans to build three permanent film studios on the village’s airfield last night.

Councillors on Dacorum Borough Council’s Development Management unanimously voted in favour of the proposals, which will see the end of one of England’s most popular markets, at a meeting last night (Thursday, September 23).

Now the fate of Bovingdon Market lies in the hands of the Secretary of State for final approval.

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Bovingdon Market closure moves step closer after councillors back plans for new film studios

Hertfordshire County Council said the applicant also needs to address concerns in regards to flood risk before permission can be formally granted, which officials expect to be completed as soon as next week.

Bovingdon Market has operated on the site for more than 40 years, but one councillor joked that its removal will be “an extra benefit” to the studio plans.

As the proposal is deemed a major development, the Secretary of State will have the final say on granting permission but the council have delegated the decision with a view to approve.

The proposals, submitted by W.J & M Mash Ltd, will see three permanent film and TV studios built on the former RAF airfield.

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Blockbusters including Bohemian Rhapsody have been filmed on Bovingdon Airfield in recent years, while ITV already operates a studio on the site for the filming of Dancing on Ice and the Masked Singer. It has not been confirmed who will operate the new studios.

The studios will be erected in the site’s ‘northern quarter’ near to HMP The Mount and the current ITV studio, but the plans will also include landscaping work to allow for backlot space across the airfield.

The backlot space would allow for more structures, including film sets, to be constructed on a more temporary basis on the site of Bovingdon Market.

As part of the application the market will be required to cease trading within 18 months of permission being granted.

The market’s operators, Wendy Fair Markets, had previously said they would “resist all attempts” to shut the market, but withdrew their objection on Monday, September 20 just days before the council made its decision.

Despite concerns about building structures on the green belt, council officers recommended approval for the plans taking into account the economic benefits of the plan, demand for studio space and the restoration of the WWII control tower.