I’ve been deeply worried by recent High Court rulings that basement excavations can fall under the category of ‘permitted developments’ and thus not require formal planning permission. This will be a major issue for Hampstead and Camden and allow too many unwelcome developments through without any scrutiny.
One that I fear is on its way is a basement excavation next to AIR Studios, on Rosslyn Hill, which I’ve written about before. AIR Studios is one of the world’s foremost recording studios for classical music and film scores. The excavation will cause a huge amount of vibrations that will shut down AIR Studios – possibly indefinitely. This would be a typically disastrous basement excavation and has to be opposed. The Secretary of State for Culture has given his support for the campaign against the development.
I want to make sure this new leeway does not allow the development, so I’ll be asking Camden’s Labour Cabinet Member responsible for planning the following question at tonight’s Council meeting:
The world-famous AIR Studios in Hampstead Town is one of the UK’s premier recording studios – founded by Beatles producer George Martin and used by artists from Coldplay to Muse. It is Britain’s foremost studio for film scores and integral to the British film and TV industry. AIR Studios is based in a beautiful Grade II-listed former church, whose unique acoustics are a significant contributing factor to its artistic and commercial success.
AIR Studios is under threat from a proposed basement excavation for a private leisure complex next door. The noise and vibrations from this would render the studios unusable for a long period of time, and possibly put it out of business altogether. 10,000 people have now signed the petition to ‘Save AIR Studios’.
Because of recent regrettable rulings, the basement may now be able to go ahead without scrutiny by the Development Control Committee. AIR Studios is a listed building in a Conservation Area. Will the Cabinet Member do everything possible, including urgently looking into issuing an Article 4 Direction to halt the development until it can be scrutinised, and save AIR Studios?
We’ll see what the response is.
For more about my campaign to oppose over-development, click here.