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MPG steps up campaign to save AIR Studios

By | Published on Thursday 17 December 2015

Air Studios

The Music Producers Guild has called on Camden Council to reject a planning application that threatens to cause the closure of AIR Studios in Hampstead.

The owners of a residential property next door to the studio, which was founded by Beatles producer George Martin in 1969, have applied for planning permission to excavate a new basement. Current AIR owner Paul Woolf says that this work would cause vibrations and noise that would make it impossible to record in the studio, often used for orchestral work on film soundtracks, for several months. Being out of action for this long would put the operation at risk of permanent closure.

Last week, the campaign to block the development stepped up after builders moved in next door and began work, which halted recording sessions in the studio.

According to local newspaper Ham & High, AIR’s lawyers quickly fired off a letter threatening an injunction after builders were spotted moving in a large digger, writing: “You are fully aware that undertaking exceptionally noisy work, which will also cause vibrations, will not simply interrupt the recording sessions but will no doubt cause them to be abandoned by the studio users. We consider your decision to go ahead with these works in spite of the impact on our client’s business to be unreasonable behaviour on your part”.

Before the final draft of that letter was completed, work had apparently already begun, Woolfe telling the paper: “We had sound experts in the main hall recording the vibrations. It was enough to absolutely stop any session dead. Fortunately nobody was recording there at the time. This was just luck”.

With planning permission not yet rubber stamped for the basement development, the MPG is now encouraging its members and others concerned for the future of the studio to submit objections to the work and sign a petition.

It said in a statement: “We call on Camden Council to reject this planning application and additionally demand all local authorities and government urgently take steps to better protect the UK’s recording facilities, so as to not only ensure that this country remains a world leader in the production of music for film and television, but also to maintain the benefit to the UK economy generated by the music industry, as well as the countless jobs it provides for sound engineers and producers”.

Queen’s Brian May recently lent his support to the campaign, saying that “given the outstanding contribution to the British music and film industries which AIR Studios makes, it is almost unbelievable to me personally that Camden Council has not thrown out this developer’s application already”.

The architect overseeing the project, Thomas Croft, told Ham & High that endeavours were being made to work with the studio, saying: “We advised the studio in advance of these archaeological investigations and agreed times that noisy works could take place and we will continue to make every effort to avoid disturbance to the studio”.