THE investment agency fuelling the growth of Yorkshire’s film industry is aiming to make Church Fenton Studios the “Pinewood of the North” as expansion plans at the site gather pace.

Screen Yorkshire has described the studios, built within a former ex-Royal Air Force base, as “the beating heart of television and film production in Yorkshire”, and believes the future is “incredibly exciting” amid the current plants to create a new 49,500 square metre film and media studio at the airfield.

The plans were submitted to Selby District Council earlier this year by the site’s owner Makin Enterprises, in a scheme that could bring 160 jobs with potentially 100 more in future.

Currently, Hangar 1 is used for filming, with workshops and stores used as TV production facilities. The plans will see Hangars 2 and 3 reclad and converted permanently into further TV and film studios or stages.

Church Fenton Studios is managed and developed by Screen Yorkshire. The historic site being redeveloped totals nearly 100,000 sq ft of internal production space, plus additional workshops and offices.

Sally Joynson, the chief executive of Screen Yorkshire, said: “We want Church Fenton Studios to become the Pinewood of the North.

“We can now demonstrate how much more we can achieve for the Selby region, Yorkshire, the wider north and the UK economy as a whole if we can attract the right level of support and investment into the sector in Yorkshire.

“Our aim is to ensure that Yorkshire & Humber is central to this increasingly vital sector for the national economy.

“We are proud of what we have achieved and are looking to repay Selby District Council for the faith they have placed in us. Church Fenton Studios are the beating heart of television and film production in Yorkshire and the future here is incredibly exciting.”

The main hanger houses the set of Victoria, ITV’s highly-acclaimed historical drama. Once the other 27,000 sq ft hanger is re-developed, it will radically increase the potential of what Screen Yorkshire can achieve.

The future of the airfield was secured when it was bought by Yorkshire farmer and entrepreneur Chris Makin, Director of Makin Enterprises in December 2014.

Ms Joynson said: “It has been a fascinating journey, from when we first approached Chris Makin with the idea of locating studios here to where we are now. And the part that Selby District Council has played in this journey is pivotal. It’s not every day that planners have to rule on a change of use from an old airfield to film studios, but the council acted swiftly and decisively. They understood exactly what we were trying to achieve and how it would benefit the region.”