Fate of historic warehouse hangs in balance

THE future of an iconic building at the heart of Camden’s musical heritage hangs in the balance this week.

On Tuesday the Planning Inspectorate will consider whether to allow the demolition of the old Chappell Piano Factory in Chalk Farm.

Developers Risetall Ltd appealed against Camden Council’s original decision not to allow the replacement of the building in Belmont Street with a seven storey student accommodation block, and next week they will have their answer.

Liberal Democrat councillor Matt Sanders has begun a petition against the destruction of the Old Piano Factory.

He said: “There’s five reasons why I’m upset about the proposal to knock it down. One is that it would mean the destruction of an amazing building – there’s the musical heritage aspect, but there’s also the environmental impact. It would be devastating to remove all those bricks not to mention the disturbance to families in Belmont Street.

“This is really not the time to be making good local businesses homeless. Many of the people who work there are local residents. Our petition is going from strength to strength. I have spoken to a lot of people about this and emotions are running high.”

Photographer Jonathan Root, whose studio in Ferdinand Street backs onto the site, said: “I’ve known the tenants and the building since the 1980s. It was the centre of the world’s piano making industry and they also made de Havilland Mosquito planes there during the war, and Stephenson’s steam engine to power a lathe.

Most Read

“I think people would be sad to lose it. I don’t mind if they knock it down so long as they replace it with something wonderful. But not a block of student housing.”

Risetall Ltd was not available for comment.

The appeal is set to be heard by the Planning Inspectorate on November 30 and is scheduled to last for three days.