Historic recording studio up for sale as school awaits planning decision
- Credit: Frankie Lister-Fell
The former Decca Studios recording facility in West Hampstead is up for sale, while a decision is awaited on whether it can be used as a school.
North Bridge House school submitted a "certificate for lawfulness" application in October to Camden Council to convert the Grade-II listed Lilian Baylis House into a site for 300 pupils aged 13-18.
The property is owned by the English National Opera (ENO) and since February 7 has been marketed by Lambert Smith Hampton.
In October, the ENO told this newspaper that it could yet keep the venue, saying the site wasn’t “formally on the market” – rendering the planning application “entirely speculative”.
A decision on the school's planning application is due by March 21.
Some residents objected to the proposals on the basis that the already busy road – Broadhurst Gardens – could not accommodate an additional 300 pupils.
One local resident, Theo Morgan, who has campaigned to preserve nearby Maida Vale Studios, is concerned about the possible loss of Lilian Baylis House as a heritage site. It was given Grade-II status in August but that is under review.
Theo said: "It's a really unique example of a pre-war recording studio from the British music industry. And there are probably very few examples of that surviving. And I think it's really important for our local heritage to keep those things alive in some way.
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"In an ideal world, it would be kept as the recording studio or something similar, which would preserve its heritage."
While the building is protected by its Grade II listing, in August the ENO asked for the listing to be reviewed so that it only applies to the recording studios within the building, in order to make the premises "more accessible".
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said the case is "under review".
ENO chief executive Stuart Murphy said: “The ENO has been a proud part of Lilian Baylis House’s musical legacy for a number of years and we will be sad to leave the premises.
"However, as we look ahead to the ENO’s plans in the future, our requirements for a rehearsal and community engagement space are such that the building now no longer fulfils our needs. We are excited about the potential of the building and look forward to seeing what the next owners do with it.”