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Iconic Holborn Studios in Hoxton under threat of demolition

PUBLISHED: 10:35 08 January 2013

Talent show X-Factor presenter Dermot O'Leary, snapped at Holborn Studios,  photo credit Nicky Johnston

Talent show X-Factor presenter Dermot O'Leary, snapped at Holborn Studios, photo credit Nicky Johnston

Nicky Johnson - no reuse allowed

A celebrity photographer has expressed his dismay that an iconic Hoxton photographic studio is under threat of demolition.

Nicky Johnston, who has just returned from America where he was snapping pop star Justin Bieber, started his illustrious photography career at Holborn Studios in Eagle Wharf Road, which developers want to bulldoze to make way for flats, a restaurant and other commercial units.

The studio has been favourite with photographers for the last 23 years and the likes of music moguls Madonna, David Bowie and even former prime minister Margaret Thatcher are just some of those who have been captured on film at the studios which runs alongside the Regent’s Canal.

Another 20 companies are also located at the family-run site, providing employment to 120 workers in a priority-employment zone.

Friendly

But now Gold Property Developments which owns the site wants to replace the buildings there with a restaurant, flats and “state-of-the art commercial space” geared up to the expanding creative industries – particularly the Tech City area around Old Street’s “Silicon Roundabout”.

Mr Johnston, of Upper Clapton, said: “It’s an iconic place – everyone in the business has worked there at some point in their lives.

“It seems mad to knock it down to build another load of double-glazed flats that are overpriced and the size of a rabbit hutch.

“I like it because I started my career there, because it’s family run it’s very friendly; yes there are other studios in London that are posher than Holborn, but they are too anal, too Stepford-wivesy and too clinical.”

Holborn boasts the title of Europe’s largest photographic studio hire complex.

Other resident companies include the Daily Mirror, Open Fundraising, and the Norrie Carr child modelling agency, as well as computer games developers, film and digital film production companies, on-line fashion and PR companies.

Canal campaigners have also expressed fear the heritage of the Regent’s Canal will be swept away with the demolition of the historic building which is considered to have “townscape merit”, and includes a Victorian chimney.

A spokesman for Gold Property Developments, which has owned the site for 30 years, said they have made it clear to the McCartney family, who have run the studios since they opened in 1989, their plans “do not preclude their future occupation of a redeveloped building.”

“A redeveloped site would provide more jobs than exist at present at the site and also provide other benefits such as the opening up of public access to the canal and the delivery of high quality housing meeting local needs,” he said.

But Vincent McCartney does not believe it would not be possible to house a photographic and film studio complex in the spaces shown in the consultation documents.

“No offer of relocation has been received or discussed,” he added.

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