Koko legal ruling could help AIR recording studios in planning battle

Inside AIR studios (photo: Daniel Pinder)

Inside AIR studios (photo: Daniel Pinder) - Credit: Archant

A landmark court victory by Camden nightclub Koko to prevent the pub next to it from being turned into flats could also be used to save a Hampstead recording studio, according to a Hampstead lawyer.

Jessica Learmond-Criqui (photo: Polly Hancock)

Jessica Learmond-Criqui (photo: Polly Hancock) - Credit: Polly Hancock

Solicitor Jessica Learmond-Criqui has been spearheading a battle to stop a couple who live next door to the world-famous AIR studios from building a luxury basement complex under their Rosslyn Hill home.

So far 8,661 people have signed a petition against the plans by Andrew and Elizabeth Jeffreys for a basement swimming pool, gym, sauna and cinema next to the studios – which were founded by Beatles producer George Martin.

Studio bosses and sound experts say the noise and vibrations from the excavation will force AIR to close for up to six months.

As reported in the Ham&High, head of the British Film Commission Adrian Wootton and composer Hans Zimmer added their name to the protest, saying the closure of the studio for this long would damage the country’s film industry and “severely” disrupt the economy.

AIR Studios, based in the Grade II listed former church and missionary school Lyndhurst Hall has seen some of the world’s biggest movies scores recorded there.

Mr Wootton said AIR, along with Abbey Road Studios, is one of only two recording studios in the UK to provide score recording services to the major international feature film industry.

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He said: “If AIR Studios were unable to operate for an extended period, the UK’s draw for major international productions would be severely compromised, which in turn could have severe implications for the wider economy.”

German Composer Hans Zimmer, who won an Oscar for The Lion King score in 1994, wrote: “The film-scoring centre that London so prominently occupies in the world will be, literally, wiped out.”

As well as the petition, Camden Council has received more than 100 written objections to the plans.

Ms Learmond-Criqui said Koko’s High Court win against Camden Council last month could provide legal clarity.

She said: “Koko argued that as a nightclub they make noise and the residents of new flats will complain about the noise which would impact on their business.

“The effect of the High Court’s decision is that Koko has some prior rights over those coming within its vicinity.

“The similarities between the Rosslyn Hill application and the Koko case are startling. Koko is internationally renowned, as is AIR Studios. Koko was trading successfully before the arrival of the developers, as is AIR Studios.”

She added: “I do not recall a time when Camden has ever faced a situation of this magnitude and of such national and international significance.”

The applicant’s architect, Thomas Croft, said: “We have taken on board the comments made by AIR Studios and are working to see how we can address them. We are committed to working closely with our neighbours throughout the planning process to ensure the design and construction of our scheme reflects the sensitivities of this site.”

Comments can be made on the application until October 6.