Westmeath councillors voted in favour of the Hammerlake studios development.
Westmeath County Councillors have voted unanimously in favour of the development at Lough Sheever Corporate Park in Mullingar.
The proposed Hammerlake Studios Ltd development will be Ireland’s biggest ever film studio and will create over 1,300 jobs when operational.
At this afternoon’s monthly meeting, Cllr. Ken Glynn proposed that planning permission be granted for the “fantastic” development for Mullingar, which he said is a “huge injection of good news” for the area.
His proposal was seconded by Cathaoirleach of Mullingar-Kinnegad Municipal District, Cllr Hazel Smyth who said the development will give “a massive boost” to Mullingar and the surrounding areas.
Cllr. Denis Leonard noted that Mullingar is “being recognised for what it is” with this proposed development, citing the town’s central location, with motorway networks and public transport outlets.
“They chose that location specifically for that, it was their number one location of choice,” he said, noting that the county will benefit longterm from the development.
“Film, naturally, is going to come to this country and I think there could be future developments for Westmeath going down the road with the tax breaks that exist in this country, with the fact we’re English-speaking, the fact we have such a highly-educated workforce. It’ll mean we can look forward to many opportunities like this.”
Cllr Andrew Duncan also fully supported the development, stating it has “the opportunity to be something special for Mullingar” and will bring a “huge boost for jobs” in the area as well as increased publicity.
Meanwhile, Cllr Dollard was “delighted” to welcome the project in his electoral area, while Cllr Aoife Davitt welcomed the “rapid movement” of the project, which will create 1,000 jobs by 2025.
Cllr Louise Heavin also supported the project but stressed the importance of supporting the arts in the midlands.
“I’m disappointed to hear the majority of jobs won’t be permanent, but for self-employed contractors,” she said.
“I think it's important we look at the arts industry. The arts does need investment in the midlands. It can grow but it does need support.”
Cllrs Frankie Keena, Bill Collentine and Frank McDermott were delighted to support the proposal to approve planning permission for the development.
Cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council Aengus O’Rourke said the development would bring “a unique type of industry” to the midlands - “none of us really know yet the potential it might have”.
“It’s a really exciting project for the county,” he said.
Chief Executive Pat Gallagher welcomed the support of the members, stressing the benefits the development would bring to Mullingar and the surrounding areas.
“We all wish it godspeed now as we proceed on our end,” he said.
Responding to the outcome of the vote, CEO of Hammerlake Studios, Paul Chesney said;
"We are extremely grateful for the support of Westmeath Council for their comprehensive vote in favour of a land zoning change which will allow the phase one build of Hammerlake Studios. We greatly appreciate all the enthusiasm from the town and the local community and are committed to building a legacy for Mullingar."