HONG KONG – The Shaw Studios, which were once the heart of the Hong Kong film industry, are to be turned into a residential and commercial site.

Planning permission was granted this week for the redevelopment of the 7.8 hectare (19 acre) site at Clear Water Bay. Permission was given for the construction of some 41 residential blocks, two hostels and two commercial buildings.

The studio was opened in 1961 by Sir Run Run Shaw’s Shaw Brothers company. At the time it was the largest privately-owned film making facility in the world, and was capable of hosting multiple film shoots simultaneously. That enabled Hong Kong for a number of years to serve as a kind of Chinese film industry in exile. In its ‘Golden Era,’ which lasted until the early 1990s, the city produced films in multiple languages and Chinese dialects for export markets in Asia and around the world. Over 1,000 features shot at the Shaw Studios.

Shaw Bros opened new studios, with five sound stages, in nearby Tseung Kwan O in 2007. But having sold its back catalog to Malaysia’s Astro in 2000 it has not been the same force in the industry.