Warning latest threat to bulldoze Holborn Studios ‘could cost Hackney Council thousands’

Holborn Studios, Eagle Wharf Road, Hackney.

Holborn Studios, Eagle Wharf Road, Hackney. - Credit: Archant

A bid to demolish Hoxton’s iconic Holborn Studios – virtually identical to the one quashed by a High Court judge a year ago - has been recommended for approval by a Hackney Council planning officer.

Galliard Homes’ application is due to be heard by the council’s planning committee next week, just over a year since a Judicial Review found the council acted unfairly and unlawfully by granting planning permission in 2016.

The council was lumbered with a legal bill in excess of £100,000, and Billy McCartney, manager of the photography studios, where Madonna, David Bowie and Margaret Thatcher were captured on film, has warned the latest bid “will likely cost the same again” if approved on January 9.

There are no differences between the current application and the previous one in terms of layout and design, and none of 50 proposed luxury flats in Eagle Wharf Road will be affordable still, failing to meet the borough’s target of 50pc.

However this time round a payment of £757,076 would be made towards affordable housing elsewhere.

Galliard Homes would also now pay £47, 592 to carbon offsetting and provide of 24pc affordable

workspace on site, where an additional 1,000sq m work space is proposed.

Most Read

This is considered a plus in the priority employment area, where there is a shortfall of 117,000sq m employment space and capacity for 70,000 jobs.

“The additional space will be capable of supporting a wide range of employment generating uses and generate employment opportunities, helping to meet economic objectives of the borough, address existing shortfalls and accommodate forecasted demand overall supporting the strategic functions of the CFOA,” states Stuart Hammond in his report.

Galliard has now conceded the site would not be suitable for a photography studio – which was one of the downfalls of the previous application, which relied on letters from two other photographic and film studios stating the proposed studio spaces were “workable”. It was agreed at the High Court their credibility could not be proven given the council would not disclose their identity.

“The officer claims that the basement space with no daylight, low ceilings and limited access could be used for employment other than studios so other jobs will be created. The only use I could think of for the space is a data centre which will offer nothing like the employment levels currently on site,” said Billy.

“Our lawyers, who won the Judicial Review against Hackney last year, advised the council not to proceed as there are several issues with the application and will end up with the council on court again. I find it deeply troubling that the council has been warned and has chosen to proceed. This is money Hackney should be putting into schools, housing and the community.”

A spokesperson for the council said: “A site visit, along with a careful consideration of any comments submitted, has informed planning officers’ assessment of the planning application.

“This forms part of an overall assessment taking into account all material planning considerations in relation to the proposed development.”