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Strongroom studios under threat from office development

Bosses at London’s Strongroom have launched a campaign to save the iconic recording studio complex, which is under threat from plans to build a new five- or six-storey office block next door.

Co-founders and owners Richard Boote and Paul Woolf say Strongroom could be put of business if planning permission is granted for the offices, with build noise and vibrations making recording sessions impossible during the projected 18-month construction period. The obstruction of natural light once the block is finished would also “drastically affect” the amenity space of Strongroom’s Bar & Kitchen business, they add.

Boote says the proposal is symptomatic of a wider problem in the east London neighbourhood, where smaller, often creative-industry, businesses are increasingly being forced out by property developers.

“The area of Shoreditch has become almost unrecognisable; when I started Strongroom in 1984, there was plenty of space and costs were low,” he comments. “As a result, a fantastic and influential community grew here. We have always attracted a wide range of artists over the years: names such as Orbital, the Chemical Brothers and the Pet Shop Boys, to name a few, all had their own studios within Strongroom, and more recently we’ve worked with artists such as Tom Odell, who mixed Real Love here, Slaves with Are You Satisfied? and Radiohead with Kid A.

“We have been a part of the industry and a part of the area for over 30 years and have watched it change over time. Now we are fighting to protect our livelihood. as there is a genuine danger that even more artists will be priced out of this area, which would be a heart-breaking end to what Shoreditch once was.”

“We want to do everything we can to fight to stay here”

The co-owners called for London’s creative industries to rally around the under-threat studios, and a 38 Degrees petition is set to be delivered to Hackney Council, Hackney MP Diane Abbott, mayor of London Sadiq Khan and more.

“We want Strongroom to continue to thrive as a hub for creative industries – like it was in the days where people’s needs were more important than pound signs – instead of the land of corporate greed it seems to be becoming, which is [we recently made the decision] for the Kitchen to be not-for-profit, despite the aggressive rising costs we are facing. Now there’s the very real possibility that these plans, as well as 34 years of history, could all be lost.

“We want to do everything we can to fight to stay here and keep the area more affordable for Britain’s rich vein of creative talent.”

“The government has already acknowledged the need for agent-of-change principles to be applied whenever a new development threatens the existence of an important cultural asset,” adds Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust. “Strongroom plainly fulfils that criteria, both as a recording studio and a live music centre. We hope Hackney will take appropriate action during the planning process so that Strongroom enjoys the full protections intended by the National Planning Policy Framework.”


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