High Court quashes Hackney Council’s decision to flatten Holborn Studios in Eagle Wharf Road

PUBLISHED: 13:33 13 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:33 13 November 2017

Holborn Studios, Eagle Wharf Road, Hackney.

Holborn Studios, Eagle Wharf Road, Hackney.


A decision to demolish an iconic Hoxton photographic studio where Madonna, David Bowie and even Margaret Thatcher were captured on film has been quashed by a High Court judge.

Holborn Studios, Eagle Wharf Road, Hackney. Holborn Studios, Eagle Wharf Road, Hackney.

Managers at Holborn Studios took issue with Hackney Council’s planning sub-committee giving the green light to Galliard Homes’ development in July 2016.

The developer wanted to flatten the commercial space in Eagle Wharf Road alongside the Regent’s Canal to build 50 luxury flats.

But none of the residential units proposed would have been “affordable”, failing to meet the borough’s target of 50pc.

The council reckoned the provision of another photographic studio in the new seven-storey building’s basement would make up for that, because it is set in a priority employment area.

Holborn Studios, Eagle Wharf Road, Hackney. Holborn Studios, Eagle Wharf Road, Hackney.

But Holborn Studios threw a spanner in the works by saying it would not have been able to continue operating out of the site at all because the poor access and restricted headroom could be dangerous to crews.

And managers claimed they weren’t given time to respond to “substantial amendments” to the application before a final decision was made.

They also complained planning officer Richard McElistrum’s report, which was used to decide the application, relied on letters from two other photographic and film studios stating the proposed studio spaces were “workable” – but said their credibility couldn’t be proven given the council would not disclose their identity.

Judge John Howell QC agreed the council had acted unfairly on both counts, and ruled that the council had unlawfully granted planning permission to developers.

Hackney Council must now pay Holborn Studios’ £35,000 costs, as well as its own.

A spokesman for the council said the application had “satisfied all policies in the council’s development plan – so it was passed.

“The judicial review was upheld on procedural grounds and we accept the ruling,” he added.

Billy McCartney, managing director of Holborn Studios, told the Gazette: “We are relieved but ready to keep fighting.

“In the meantime, the developers have helpfully put in another planning application which is remarkably similar to the one that has just been quashed.”

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