Friday, 16 July 2010

Bray Management Ltd reveal plans

UPDATE (20/7/2010): PLEASE NOTE: Open day is next TUESDAY 27TH JULY.
Also, the email contact for the developers is

Finally we now know the full scale of Bray Management Ltd.'s plans for Bray Studios.

We have been forwarded a copy of the leaflet that has been sent to local residents outlining the plan for development.

The main points from the plans are:

  • Demolition of the entirety of the existing Bray Studios buildings
  • Conversion of the listed Down Place house, back into a private residential property (which will be lived in by the owner of Bray Management Ltd. and his family)
  • Construction on the site of 7 residential properties 
  • Construction of a new 'media centre' which will employ approx 25 people on site
Effectively this means the end of Bray Studios, the historic independent film studio founded in 1951 by the young Hammer Films company as Exclusive Studios. A property which has been home to hundred of film and television programmes, and music recording over the last 59 years.

The plans also suggest that the development will ensure a substantial reduction in the HGV traffic to the site - as traffic is currently a concern in the area, as is likely a point which will be used to persuade the council to accept the proposals.

The development is being handled on behalf of the owners by the Pegasus Planning Group

A public 'exhibition' is being held on Tuesday 27th July at Bray Film Studios, Water Oakley, Windsor, SL4 5UG between 3 and 8pm. Visitors should report to security on arrival. Comment sheets are being provided and can be deposited at the venue.

Pegasus have also said they are willing to hear from local residents and other interested parties during the current consultation. Comments can be emailed to All comments are due before 10 August 2010.

We would encourage supporters of the Save Bray Studios campaign to contact Pegasus to voice their dissatisfaction at the closure of the studios, and to stress the importance of its continued existence as a film site. Please refrain from abusive messages, and offensive language.

The leaflet does make the following comment "Whilst reuse of the existing buildings for alternative purposes remains an option, it is considered that the site offers opportunities for redevelopment that will deliver wider benefits." This suggests that if a strong case is made the Studio still has a chance to be saved.

Pegasus also indicate that formal planning applications will be made in the next 1-2 months.

A Response

Speaking personally, I have little objection to Down Place being converted back at least in some way to housing. Certainly it would make a lovely residence for any millionaire. The building has retained live-in residents throughout the last 60 years. Similarly the building has undergone much work over the years, with the inside radically altered. Any conversion though should be sympathetic to the original, and as much of the original building should be retained. Currently a projection room is housed in the old Ballroom stage and it would be a pity to loose this from a historical point of view.

I have not personally investigated the rest of the property, and it would be informative to see what the rest of the property is like, and what remains from the old studios. 

Down Place is the iconic element of Bray Studios, and once it returns to private dwellings I assume we will loose all access to the property. Many of us rightly feel the property is of cultural significance and in some way we have a right to experience that. Conversion to dwellings would prevent future events like the Hammer At Bray reunions from taking place.  The decision should not be taken lightly. 

The new dwellings that are being proposed, whilst supposedly eco-friendly, are rather dull, contemporary affairs. Much is made of the improvements to the view of Toad Hall (an separate building to Down Place), but the buildings do not fit in with the historical character of the village and surrounding properties any more than the current studio buildings do. These will be expensive properties for the elite few and will clutter the site.

As for the new 'media centre' - this looks as inept as the new dwellings. Fashionable perhaps, but also prompt the question why? The building is much smaller than the existing studio buildings and seems like a needless construction. The existing studio buildings could be adapted - but more than this, the buildings could continue to be used as studios if the Management allowed it. We have already reported how at least one producer expressed an interest in either long-term hire of the site or buying out the studio for a series of productions, only to be met with silence at Bray Management.

One must also question the funding of this. Recent filing activity for Bray Management Ltd. at Companies House suggested that the accounts were empty and the studio can not remain. But the redevelopment of the site also requires medium to long-term investment, and that finance must be found from somewhere.

We maintain that Bray Studios could continue to function as a working studio if the owners were willing to engage. Failing that, something could be made of the history of the space as a film studio, and perhaps turned into a living museum, or full muli-media space.

We would welcome any representation of Bray Management Ltd. to contact us and present their side of proposals. 

In the meantime, we will be encouraging campaign supporters to visit the exhibition to view for themselves and lodge objections and suggestions.