December 2015: Air Studios recordings at risk due to basement
Emily Banks Ham&High
Dr Brian May
Air Studios had to shut down its world-famous main recording studio on Monday 7 December as neighbours began excavations on a luxury basement complex underneath their home.
The noise and vibrations from a mechanical digger smashing through concrete "was enough to shut us down and absolutely stop any recording session dead", said furious AIR Studios owner Paul Woolf.
As Mr Woolf spotted builders bring a large mechanical digger onto the site of the listed house in Rosslyn Hill on Monday morning. his lawyers Birkett LLP phoned the scheme's architects and fired off a letter threatening an injunction to stop the work.
The letter said: "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."
The lawyers wrote: "For you to continue with works today in the knowledge that this will impact negatively upon our client's business is unacceptable and unreasonable.
It continued: "Should you continue with the breaking works this afternoon, or at any time during which you are aware that our client's business will be interrupted, we entirely reserve our client's positions regarding a claim in damages against your clients for any losses caused as a result of the works.
"We further entirely reserve our client's position regarding an application for an injunction either to stop the works or to have the Court impose a timetable upon you to ensure that our client's business is not unreasonably interrupted."
However in a post-script, the lawyers noted: "Since drafting this letter we have been informed that the breaking works have already begun.
Mr Woolf said.: "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."
More than 10,000 people have signed a petition against the plans which were submitted to Camden Council by Andrew and Elizabeth Jeffreys, for a basement, swimming pool, gym and cinema under their house.
Queen guitarist Brian May, head of the British Film Commission Adrian Wootton and Oscar-winning film composer Hans Zimmer have also thrown their weight behind the campaign.
With its unrivalled acoustics, Air Studios, founded by Beatles producer George Martin in the Grade II listed former church and missionary school Lyndhurst Hall on Rosslyn Hill, has seen some of the worlds' biggest movie scores and top musicians record there.
As reported in the Ham&High, 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 for major international feature films. "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," he said.
Queen guitarist Brian May previously said: "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 applicants were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.
Source: Camden New Journal 10 December 2015