Scaling back basement plans ‘not enough to save world-famous Air Studios’

Paul Woolf outside AIR Studios NW3

Paul Woolf outside AIR Studios NW3 - Credit: Archant

A controversial development which critics warned will have a catastrophic impact on a world-famous recording studio in Hampstead has been scaled back.

Inside AIR studios

Inside AIR studios - Credit: Archant

Campaigners have rallied against a bid to renovate a home in Rosslyn Hill because noise would force neighbouring Air Studios to shut for months.

This week Camden Council confirmed that plans to build a second basement, to the west of the property and closest to the studio, have been taken out of the plans.

But homeowners Andrew and Elizabeth Jeffreys still plan to plough ahead with a basement to the east of their home.

Today Air Studios chief executive Paul Woolf told the Ham&High the business has already spent £100,000 opposing plans over the past 15 months.

He said the removal of one basement, which had been set to be a home cinema room, would make no difference to the impact on the noise-sensitive studio.

Mr Woolf said: “It’s still a lot of noise, they’ll still be digging a basement and they’ll still be piledriving.

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“It doesn’t change the fact that this is a sound sensitive building.

“It’s atrocious. There will still be seven to 12 months of digging, but it seems the council is oblivious every time we say that it could put Air Studios out of business.”

Queen guitarist Brian May and superstar George Michael are among those who have spoken up for the studio in the long-running saga.

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, who chairs the Frognal and Fitzjohns Safer Neighbourhoods Panel, said: “The particular issues of noise and vibration will affect Air’s business as recordings cannot take place with lorries going to and fro and banging from building work next door, even if from one basement and not from two.

“The neighbour has not proved conclusively that there will be no harm to Air – a danger apparent to all. Air is having to make all the running to prove harm to its business and even so, Camden seems blind to this danger.”

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for the studio to be protected.

Musician and producer Sam Obernik, who lives nearby, wrote to Camden Council: “The progress of this planning application seems utterly self-serving at it’s heart.

“I urge you to consider the harm, hurt and great loss which stand to be born by the musical community and the greater public; and the high value we place on great cultural institutions. “What public good does this one basement stand to serve relative to its long-standing neighbour Air Studios? Is one basement conversion really worth it?”

A statement from Thomas Croft Architects, acting on behalf of the applicants, said its clients are open to discussions with the studio.

The statement said: “We have always said that we would listen to the issues raised during this process, and have voluntarily decided to remove one of the two basements to ensure that any impact during construction is minimised.

“We remain amazed that despite multiple offers to meet Air Studios refuses to have any discussions with us.

“Our offer to meet and discuss remains on the table.”