More big-budget film and TV productions could be attracted to the region with an £11.8m investment from the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to expand The Bottle Yard Studios.

The funding is a significant commitment to the West of England’s creative industries, which are an important part of the regional economy and will be key to its recovery.

The Bottle Yard Studios plays host to a wide range of productions, including drama, children’s TV, feature films, gameshows and commercials. Its growth will help support other businesses across the region which rely on film and TV production opportunities.

Tim Bowles, Mayor of the West of England, says: “The Bottle Yard Studios is a terrific example of our region’s vibrant creative sector that brings so much joy to people right across the globe. I’m very pleased that as part of our Economic Recovery plan, we can help Bottle Yard Studios with £11.8m to expand and, with support from my team at Invest Bristol and Bath, attract more production companies to the West of England to help showcase the wonderful talent and opportunities we have in our region.”

The expansion plan, which it is estimated will create around 1,000 jobs over a 10-year period, includes the conversion of an industrial property located at South Bristol’s Hawkfield Business Park, less than half a mile from the main Bottle Yard site, into three new sound stages, complete with production offices, prop stores and costume/makeup areas. The proposed works will take the number of sound stages available at The Bottle Yard Studios from eight to 11, whilst improvement work will also be carried out on the existing buildings at the main Bottle Yard site. 

Laura Aviles, Senior Bristol Film Manager for Bristol City Council responsible for The Bottle Yard Studios & Bristol Film Office, says: “This is an extremely positive step in the right direction for our expansion plan. At The Bottle Yard Studios we’ve seen a significant post-Covid rise in demand for space, which was already high before the pandemic. Many production companies are now seeking to secure studios for multiple year periods.

“With more high-end TV titles opting to shoot in Bristol than ever before, this expansion will enable The Bottle Yard Studios to attract an even greater percentage of that potential business to the region. Valuable jobs will be generated for Bristol’s talented crew base, local companies will see an increase in workflow and vital career opportunities for industry entrants from all parts of the city will be created, particularly for those living close to the Studios in South Bristol. All at a time when these opportunities are needed more than ever.”

The WECA Committee approved an outline business case by Bristol City Council for expansion of The Bottle Yard Studios into the neighbouring Hawkfield Business Park. WECA has committed £135,000 to develop a full business case and the allocated a further £11.73 million for the site purchase costs and to enable the works. The council will repay 50% of the total investment to WECA over a five-year term.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “This decision is another significant investment in South Bristol and is a major boost to our wider regeneration plans, bringing growth and jobs into the area. The demand for screen content is growing worldwide. The expansion of the Bottle Yard Studios means we can harness this growth in the sector and continue Bristol’s success as a creative destination, ensuring local people and the city economy benefit long-term as we plan our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Councillor Dine Romero, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We really welcome this investment in the industry. Filming at the studios has benefits for the whole region. Most recently we’ve seen the huge success of Bridgerton and last year we also saw The Trial of Christine Keeler, which was filmed in both The Guildhall and the Bottle Yard Studios and of course we had the Bath-based McDonald and Dodds. With this investment we look forward to supporting more dramas being filmed in the region.”

Leader of South Gloucestershire Council Cllr Toby Savage said: “It’s fantastic to see the Bottle Yard Studios receive this additional investment from WECA to help them expand and increase their productivity. This is a very welcome boost for the industry in our region which will help attract other creative companies to our area and generate significant numbers of new jobs.”