World famous Air Studios wins basement battle with neighbours
Owner: 'I'm happy but angry that I've spent two years of my life over a swimming pool'
19 October, 2017 — By Richard Osley
AN orchestra cheered with delight as news filtered into the world famous Air Studios that its next door neighbours had withdrawn plans to dig out a new basement, bringing an end to a two-year planning dispute on Thursday.
The studios, originally founded by Beatles producer George Martin, had been ready to contest a planning inquiry over the proposals, which musicians said would have been so noisy that it would have stopped the music at the building in Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead. Andrew and Elizabeth Jeffreys have been pursuing plans for the excavation at their next door house through the Town Hall and the planning inspectorate. After a decision to hold a public inquiry, however, they finally withdrew last week.
Paul Woolf, owner of Air Studios, told the New Journal: “I’m happy, relieved that this is all over now. But I’m angry too, angry that I’ve spent two years of my life dealing with this – and all for a swimming pool. You’d sort of understand it, if it was an important building bringing lots of public good but, no, all of this has been over a swimming pool.”
He added: “When the news came through, we walked in and told the musicians in the hall and a big cheer went up. This had the potential to take away their livelihoods.” The case was first brought to public attention by a New Journal exclusive in May 2015, sparking huge interest and worldwide media attention as the likes of Joanna Lumley, Brian May and the late George Michael spoke up in support of the studios.
The CNJ broke the news about the threat to the studios’s silence in May 2015
Mr Woolf said: “I’d like to say thank you to the public and all the musicians, all the people who work here, who have shown their support – we want to thank them by having a celebration, and a day for everybody to come in and see what we do.” He added that the studios would now look to see if it could recover more than £200,000 of legal costs pumped into the case. The studios, operating in the building formerly known as Lyndhurst Hall, is famous for recording the soundtracks to some of the world’s biggest movies due to its capacity to accommodate a full orchestra.
“You will be amazed but at no stage has Mr Jeffreys actually spoken to me. He never once came and spoke to me about what he wanted to do,” said Mr Woolf. “Now I know more about the planning system than I ever thought I would, and we were relieved because it always feels there is a tendency to side with the applicants.” The inquiry, which was lined up to take four days, was ordered after the two parties could not agree on sound analysis at the site.
A statement released by Mr Jeffreys and his wife by their architect Thomas Croft said: “The family has decided to withdraw the application to extend their family home in light of the decision to move the process to a full public inquiry. The family has every intention of remaining in their home for many years to come.”