JCB heir targets BAE Woodford

The prospective buyer of 500 acres in Stockport and east Cheshire from BAE Systems has emerged as Joe Bamford, heir to the JCB fortune.

Talks are understood to be at an advanced stage and contracts are due to be exchanged in the coming weeks. Bamford plans to market an element of the aerospace factory for a film studio.

Other parts of the site will be reserved for housing and leisure uses including possibly a polo club and amateur racecourse. Precise details of the size of the film studio and the number of residential units have yet to emerge.

Bamford will work with Wilmslow business folk James Fletcher, of Onside PR, and Harry Harvey, whose interest is in the film studios, to bring the project to fruition.

Separate talks are also ongoing between North West creative industries quango Vision & Media and an unnamed film company about hiring premises at Woodford. In a statement issued following media interest in the land sale, Vision & Media said: "[We] have for the last 18 months been looking across the North West for a suitable site that could be developed as a film studio to complement the current offer in the region for drama and TV production and to meet demand from enquiries to the region from feature film production companies.

"Woodford came to our attention at the beginning of the year. The site met all of our requirements for a film studio/build space for feature film projects due to its size and location. We were in talks with BAE and Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council during their decommissioning process regarding the possibility of renting the space out from them to house film crews until the site was sold. Last year we ran the first out of London inward mission into the North West for senior LA production company executives, which was a huge success and we have been in talks with these production companies about the site for a number of projects. We hope to continue these discussions with the new owners when the site is finally sold, as it has such potential for part use as a feature film studio."

Consultations into the future of the Woodford site , to inform a Supplementary Planning Document, will continue by Stockport Council and Cheshire East Council.

Cllr Dave Goddard, leader of Stockport Council, said: "Woodford is of tremendous significance and it is extremely important for us to ensure we get the right development on site. I can confirm that the chief executive and I have had an introductory meeting with the potential purchasers. We are very keen to bring forward the right sort of regeneration to benefit local people, the economy of Stockport and of the entire region. Our initial discussions have been very helpful."

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They do say the best way to make money is to already have money. But fair play to Mr Bamford, this is a massive project which, if it works, will have a really positive effect on the surrounding area and the region as a whole. At least – and no offence intended – its not Peel. Nice to have more than one aspirational developer in the region thinking outside the box

By Wereitbutme

I thought about Peel but decided it wouldn’t make sense as they have so much land of their own, not least the two-thirds of the Media City site that has yet to be built out. We await with interest.

By Merecat