Culture secretary adds voice to Air Studios row

Air Studios Lyndhurst Road

Air Studios Lyndhurst Road - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Culture secretary John Whittingdale has intevened in the campaign to protect Air Studios from a neighbouring basement development.

John Whittingdale MP during a previous visit to Hampstead

John Whittingdale MP during a previous visit to Hampstead - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A total of 12,400 people have signed a petition with popstar George Michael and actress Joanna Lumley among scores of others who have objected to the basement leisure complex in Rosslyn Hill next to the world famous Grade II-listed studios,

The plans were submitted last April by Andrew and Elizabeth Jeffreys, to build a swimming pool, gym, sauna and cinema under their Georgian house.

Studio bosses fear the noise and vibrations from the excavations means they will be forced to close for up to six months which could threaten its future and the future of the British music industry.

George Michael was one of a group of celebrities including Belsize Park director Tim Burton, actress Joanna Lumley and recently deceased Beatles producer and studio founder George Martin to write a letter of objection to the plans in January.

They wrote that the planning application “threatens the very existence of a jewel in europe’s music industry.”

Since then the Jeffreys have submitted two revised applications sparking fears that the petition and original letters would not be considered

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But Camden planners have stressed that all replies on the original plans will be carried across. The consultation ended on March 29.

Last week culture secretary John Whittindale wrote a letter to follow up another written in June to Camden’s planning department to stress his views.

He writes: “I have once again been contacted by those who remain seriously concerned about the impact of this proposed development on Air Studios and consequently, the wider creative industries that the studio’s existence and operation supports.

“As you are aware, Air Studios is an internationally renowned facility and one of only two studios in London, along with Abbey Road, set up to record a full orchestra. This enables it to play an enormously important role in the UK’s creative and wider economy, not only through its contribution to the music industry, but also to film, television, stage and video games.

He continues: “I fully acknowledge and respect the independence of Camden’s planning process, but do hope that the significance of Air Studios to the music industry and beyond including the UK’s economy will be fully assessed and considered in reaching a decision.”

Air Studios owner Paul Woolf said: “We are delighted to have the continued support of the department of culture, media and sport. Their latest letter confirms what many others say - Air is central to the UK film business. We would have thought that by now Camden would understand this and reject the applications out of hand given the risks to UK culture and it’s economy and the risks to two listed buildings. “