By Gordon Deegan
A €90m expansion of the Wicklow studios where the drama series Vikings is filmed is on hold after locals appealed the decision to grant planning permission.
Last month, Wicklow County Council approved Ashford Studio’s plans to build four new 40,000sq ft film studios, a television studio, new offices, support space, and a visitor centre.
Ashford Studios had been looking to commence work on the project in June but the appeal will, at the very least, delay works by four to six months.
Local residents Emily Olive Hill and Sharon Hughes lodged an appeal against the planning decision with An Bord Pleanála, stating that “the scale and mass of the proposed development is not in keeping with the rural character of the area”.
“The proposed development will inevitably radically alter the existing rural landscape and the views of the unspoilt hills forming the site,” says the appeal.
The appeal also raises concerns about the possibility of night-time filming, which “is likely to result in night-time noise and light pollution within this rural area, which may have a significant negative impact”.
While the objectors said they are not opposed to the expansion, in principle, they claimed the current plan does not conform with a number of requirements attached to the land zoning as set out in the Wicklow County Development Plan.
The most recent accounts for Ashford Studios show it recorded profits of €1.59m in 2016.