HE is perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, usually due to the fact that he is Scotland’s largest private landowner, but the Duke of Buccleuch’s vast property empire gives him the clout to achieve what many others cannot.

Which is why the revelation that Buccleuch Estates is one of the driving forces behind Scotland’s newest plans for a film studio will be seen as good news for the nation’s embattled screen community.

Previous film studio plans have suffered from lack of initial funding or land ownership problems, but Buccleuch Estates owns more than 200,000 acres and is very profitable.

Announced just weeks after the plan was floated to transform a giant industrial shed in Leith into a national film studio – that project is out to tender – the new studios are set to replace the planned studio operation at Straiton in Midlothian.

Variety magazine yesterday revealed that PSL, the firm behind the Straiton plan which has been troubled with a land tenancy dispute, had been approached by Buccleuch offering a site just four miles away at Saltersgate in Dalkeith.

Variety reported there is now an agreement in principle between the two parties.

READ MORE: Screen Scotland reveal plans for major Edinburgh film studio

Buccleuch and Edinburgh Caledonia Studios Ltd – thought to be the successor body to PSL – have formed a joint initiative and transplanted much of the designs for the Straiton studio to Saltersgate.

The Straiton project foundered after the Scottish Land Court decided in favour of farmer Jim Telfer and his family, who had occupied the land for more than a century, allowing the Telfers to maintain their tenancy on the site.

The National:

The National can reveal that Midlothian Council have received a “proposal of application” notice for a “mixed use development comprising film and TV studios including workshops/offices; reception/commissary; gatehouse; backlot; trailer park; film academy and associated student accommodation; and associated access, parking and infrastructure”.

The initial application was validated yesterday. The plans show that nine sound stages would be created across 208,000 sq ft at the 48-acre site just north of Dalkeith High School campus which is bounded to the east by the A68 and to west by Salters Road.

Architects Keppie told the council they were acting on behalf of Buccleuch Estates and Edinburgh Caledonia Studios Ltd. They have already arranged a drop-in public consultation meeting at Woodburn Primary School on January 31 from 4pm to 8pm.

The plan would involve a tie-up with Edinburgh Napier University for a film academy and would not clash with the Scottish Government-backed plan for the Leith warehouse transformation.

Sources in the screen industries say such is the demand for shooting films in Scotland, it could host three or four studios.

The Saltersgate plan has the huge advantage of having already been designed for another location. That could hasten the planning process by many months.

Nick Waugh, commercial property director at the commercial arm of Buccleuch Estates, told Variety: “We recognise the importance of this ambitious project, and are delighted to play a role in helping deliver a world-class film studio to Scotland that will inevitably transform the Scottish creative industry and our reputation as a filming location across the globe.”

PSL Land consultant Nick Smith added: “You look at what’s happening in the Bristol and South Wales corridor or Belfast, and the one area of the UK that is missing out by a country mile and has been for years is Scotland.”

Smith, who formerly worked for Pinewood Studios told Variety that if everything goes according to plan, work could commence on it in March and could be in use by late 2019 or early 2020.