Luxury Hampstead basement next to AIR Studios will “wipe out” British Film Industry

Air Studios in Lyndhurst Road

Air Studios in Lyndhurst Road - Credit: Nigel Sutton

The head of the British Film Commission has warned that noise from a Hampstead basement excavation will damage the country’s film industry and “severely” disrupt the economy by forcing the closure of the world-famous AIR recording studios.

Composer Hans Zimmer

Composer Hans Zimmer - Credit: DPA/Press Association Images

Commission chief executive Adrian Wootton joins fellow film executives and film score musicians from around the world in writing to Camden Council, objecting to a couple’s plans to build a basement leisure complex underneath their listed home in Rosslyn Hill,

The protesters, including oscar-winning film composer Hans Zimmer and Bond theme composer David Arnold, have added their names to a 5,000-strong petition against the plans, by Andrew and Elizabeth Jeffreys, for a basement swimming pool, gym, sauna and cinema under the house next to the studios, which were founded by Beatles producer George Martin.

Studio bosses say the noise and vibrations from the excavations means they will be forced to close for up to six months.

With its unrivalled acoustics, Air Studios, based in the Grade II listed former church and missionary school Lyndhurst Hall, in Rosslyn Hill, has seen some of the world’s biggest movies scores and top musicians record there. Mr Wootton said that 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.

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, writes: “My movies have grossed more than $22billion dollars worldwide, and in no small part have the musicians and AIR Studios been a contributing force in this. I have made it a point of bringing the work from mainly American film studios back to the musicians and the studio in London.”

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“This only works because there are two orchestral studios in London: Air and Abbey Road. You need both to be working to make London a viable destination. As soon as one has downtime, both will very quickly have to shut their doors permanently, and the film-scoring centre that London so prominently occupies in the world will be, literally, wiped out.”

Camden Council has received more than 100 objections to the plans. Paul Woolf, co-owner and CEO of AIR Studios, said he was “blown away” by the level of support. “We would have to shut during works, which might be for as long as seven months. If the business goes away during this time, it may never come back.”

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