Film stages where Star Wars and Pointless were filmed will be knocked down and rebuilt.

Elstree Studios shut its stages 7, 8 and 9 after workers discovered asbestos during a routine inspection in 2022.

When remediation works began, the roof was found to contain RAAC – the “bubbly” reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete that can collapse and was discovered in around 174 schools across the country.

According to Hertsmere Borough Council, which owns the studios, the roofs at Elstree “had not only lost their useful life but were in a dangerous state”.

Herts Advertiser: Elstree Studios plaque in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire

But in an announcement on Wednesday, October 4, the authority has revealed it will pull down stages 7, 8 and 9, which were built in the 1960s.

Hertsmere Borough Council will rebuild them and put forward a “package of ongoing support” to its company.

Councillor Jeremy Newmark, council leader and Elstree Studios chair, said in a statement: “Elstree Studios continues to thrive and the award-winning Platinum Stages, which opened last year, clearly show that we’re committed to continued investment in this valuable asset for our borough and our residents.

“Whilst the financial outlay to the council will be significant, this initiative is key to ensuring the site remains competitive and aligned with emerging trends in the film and television industry.

“Elstree Studios also contributes to our revenue budget, which benefits residents across the borough.

“We acknowledge that the building works following the discovery of asbestos and subsequent issues with RAAC have had an impact on the studio’s clients.

“We are doing all we can to mitigate those impacts.”

Herts Advertiser: Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.

The council made its decision and agreed the funding behind closed doors at a meeting on Wednesday, September 20, because the debate contained “commercially sensitive” information.

Hertsmere Borough Council originally estimated works at Elstree Studios would fall in the region of £150-200million – to replace “life-expired buildings” and infrastructure.

Demolition is now the “most viable” option, the authority has said.

Cllr Morris Bright was chair of Elstree Studios until August this year and leader of the council between 2007 and May this year.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “As former chairman and a current director, it has become clear in recent months that the options of refurbishing the existing stages are untenable as we seek to deliver a 21st-century carbon-neutral studios.”

Productions shot in stages 7, 8 and 9 include Pointless, The Chase and the feature film Paddington.

The RAAC and asbestos used to construct these 1960s buildings are now considered dangerous.

Other stages, including the George Lucas Stages where Strictly Come Dancing is filmed, are safe and unaffected.

According to the NHS, exposure to asbestos can cause asbestosis, which can in turn cause shortness of breath, wheezing, extreme tiredness, and aches and pains.

RAAC is a lightweight concrete that can start to crumble when it reaches the end of its life.

Council-owned buildings throughout the country are built using RAAC, including the Abbey View sports pavilion in St Albans, the Museum of Gloucester and the Bridgend Indoor Market in Wales.

The Ministry of Justice has temporarily closed Harrow Crown Court after the discovery of Raac at the north London justice centre.

The Department of Health and Social Care has committed to rebuilding seven hospitals that contain significant amounts of the concrete, including Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and Frimley Park in Surrey.

Herts Advertiser: Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire (June 2023)

The Department for Education knows about 174 RAAC cases at schools – with 23 education settings forced to put on hybrid arrangements, and one forced to begin remote learning.