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Canalside flats in doubt as iconic studios calls for judicial review

A developer wants to create 50 luxury flats at Holborn Studios on the banks of t

A developer wants to create 50 luxury flats at Holborn Studios on the banks of the Regent’s Canal

Mike and Billy McCartney of Holborn Studios

Mike and Billy McCartney of Holborn Studios 

Published: 2 December, 2016
by KOOS COUVÉE 

THE owners of iconic photographic studios on the banks of the Regent’s Canal have said controversial plans to turn the complex into luxury flats are on “shaky ground”.

Lawyers for Holborn Studios are set to serve papers with Hackney Council detailing grounds for a judicial review over the way the authority approved developer Galliard Homes’ plans to demolish the buildings at Eagle Wharf Road and build 50 private canalside apartments.

And Billy McCartney, of Holborn Studios, said Galliard, which owns the site overlooking Angel’s Packington estate, offered to sell the site for £30million just weeks ago and has been sounding out other potential buyers – casting doubt on the development.

Mr McCartney, who runs the studios founded by his parents Vince and Margaret McCartney with his brother Mike, said they would continue to resist the plans.

He told the Tribune: “I'm feeling confident [about the judicial review]. We’re also waiting to hear back from Historic England about a listed building application, and if that happens any developer would have to get listed building consent [to redevelop the site]. It would be a benefit for us but for the landowner it would not be.

“We believe the ­development is on shaky ground and they’ve offered to sell it to us. The property market is very uncertain at the moment.”

The studios, where Madonna, David Bowie and Kate Moss have posed for the camera, became Europe’s largest photographic studio hire complex after the McCartneys lovingly restored the Victorian building 35 years ago.

Hackney’s planning committee approved the application in July. ­Galliard want to keep the main building’s Victorian frontage and chimney, but demolish the studios, which would be replaced by 50 luxury flats and offices – 24 per cent of which will be classed as “affordable workspace” – in two six-storey blocks. One-bedroom flats would reportedly start at £700,000.

Another 20 companies have offices on the site, including the Daily ­Mirror newspaper and News UK, along with computer games developers, film production companies, online fashion firms and PR companies. 

Hackney received 132 letters of objection to the plans, including from the Hackney Society, the Friends of Regent’s Canal and the Angel Wharf Residents Association. There were just two ­letters of support. 

Celebrities including former Arsenal footballer Robert Pires and music mogul Simon Cowell have also lent their support to the Save Holborn Studios campaign.

Galliard said it had “nothing further to ­comment at this time”.

If a judge approves the application for a judicial review a hearing at the High Court will be held in the new year.

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