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Pinewood film studios to go ahead with 200 mln stg expansion

LONDON (Reuters) - British film production company Pinewood Shepperton won an appeal on Friday to double the size of its main studio with a controversial 200 million pound ($341.09 million) expansion plan.

The British government has supported the 15-year project to expand the company's studio in southern England, where the latest Star Wars film is currently being filmed, after it was blocked twice by local authorities.

Following the government's green light, Ivan Dunleavy, chief executive of Pinewood which is Europe's largest film studio, said construction would begin as soon as possible.

"Our project builds on the success of the government's policy for the creative industries and addresses the shortage of stage space in the UK," he said.

The expansion will include 100,000 square meters of new facilities, including studios, stages and workshops.

Earlier plans, which involved building on protected green belt land surrounding London, were rejected by the local council last year and in 2010 after a "Stop Project Pinewood" campaign by local residents.

The studios, home to more than 1,500 movies over 76 years, were used to film 23 of 25 James Bond films including the latest hit "Skyfall", as well as Oscar-nominated "Les Miserables".($1 = 0.5864 British Pounds)

(Reporting by Jack Stubbs, editing by David Evans)

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