Examples of objections to Holborn Studios demolition

Comments from a local resident

I would like to register an objection to this development in line with your planning notes:

1.Visual appearance Changing the historic vista of this very important part of the canal. The proposed building will dominate the skyline, be visible from most of the conservation area and dwarf the lower buildings on the Islington side of the canal

2. Contrary to Council Policy Hackney Council have designated this area as Priority 1 for employment and although commercial units are built into the design there is no guarantee that these would be occupied to similar levels. Holborn Studio's is a thriving business and makes a significant contribution to the local economy in terms of employment and purchasing local supplies and services.

3. Impact on Listed Buildings and/or Conservation Area This development conflicts with many of the design and historic guidelines stated in Hackney Council's Regents Canal Conservation Area Appraisal: page 38 (figures 42 and 43) page 41 (para 2) page 42 (para 4.4) One of the most important buildings and views that act as focal points is Holborn Studios, Eagle Wharf page 47 (para 6.1) Holborn Studios should be considered as a strength page 48 (para 6.3) One of the opportunities suggests that the repair and reuse of historic buildings for mixed and residential use could be implemented page 49 (para 6.4) One of the threats is over-development of canal side sites for residential use page 50 The conclusion is very clear about the way these historic and important sites should be treated page 62 (Appendix B) Holborn Studios is a Building of Townscape Merit and has subsequently been locally listed by Hackney Council. Previously Hackney Councillors stated that convincing evidence would need to be shown that the current business is not sustainable in order to remove it. Also a redevelopment which harms the character and appearance of the Conservation Area is unlikely to be acceptable unless there is overwhelming public benefit to be gained.

Comments from a neighbouring resident

Dear Sirs I object strongly to the proposed redevelopment based on the following:

Loss of privacy. I live opposite and the new flats will overlook our home.

Loss of daylight the buildings will overshadow the North side to a significant extent compared to current buildings.

Visual appearance ugly development dull modernist layout no different to any of the new builds along the canal, we will lose a historic and delightful setting, one of the last remaining examples on the Regents Canal that can never be reclaimed again. The preservation of just the chimney is simply ridiculous.

Contrary to Council policy and/or London Plan policy, I believe that it will not be suited to rehouse the excellent commercial enterprises established at present and highly likely concomitant loss of jobs; Hackney, not in the council policy or best interests. It seems a cynical drive to furnish the coffers of the developers, not in the interests of a vibrant and long established venerable commercial enterprise with its offshoot business, also providing a specialist service with internal spaces hard to find in London in any event.

Impact on Listed Buildings and/or Conservation Areas, as you will already know this Holborn Studios complex has been granted a listed building status with architectural merit and should be left in it current state, also born out by support from the members of the adjacent Arlington Square conservation area as well.

Comments from Vince McCartney

Dear Jonathan,

I object to the above application on design terms because the plans as presented cannot provide a large photographic and moving image studio complex.

Briefly my qualifications to comment are as follows:

I am the part time development director at Holborn Studios and a full time consultant on photographic and moving image studio design. I have completed the whole design for five major complexes and I have consulted on studio design in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham in the UK as well as projects in Spain and Cyprus.

In the application on page 29 it states:

"Provision has been made for photographic studios to be located in the basement. The outline design and layout of the photographic studios has been developed in consultation with Hoborn Studios in order to meet their specific needs. This includes a proposed floor to ceiling height of 5m together with the arrangement of structural columns to provide the free space needed for photographic white infinity spaces or 'coves'. Office, casting and green room space is provided at street entry level, whilst ample storage for equipment is available adjacent to the studios, accessed via a large goods lift. Overall the commercial floorspace will deliver an increase in net area compared to the existing building by approximately 38m2 and will result in a significant qualitive enhancement to the commercial floorspace offer."

The part highlighted is simply a lie by either the architects or their client I have attached a sketch plan that was sent to me on January 5, 2015 and a copy of my response on the same day.

On the next page are the details of why this proposed design will not work. I will be more than happy to correspond by email or telephone, but I will be out of the UK until October 23rd when I will attend in person if needed.

Many thanks.

Vincent McCartney

See also Vince's explanation of why the proposed studio spaces are unfit for purpose.

Comments sent to the developers in January

Date: Tuesday 27th January 2015

Subject: Re: Eagle Wharf Road Pre-Application Consultation

Dear Sarah,

I am writing on behalf of the Friends of Regent's Canal to comment on the latest proposals to redevelop 49-50 Eagle Wharf Road. We have discussed these proposals - and the previous proposals - on a number of occasions at our public meetings and in written correspondence across our group. I regret that the vast majority of our contacts are opposed to any proposals that could result in bulky development, loss of historic buildings or disruption to the existing workforces at these premises.

I accept that the latest proposals are an improvement on the previous proposals, in that the chimney and one of the historic frontages will be spared demolition, but the bulky buildings would undermine the chimney as a prominent landmark, the charming courtyard and quirky industrial buildings would be replaced by modern structures and there will be unjustified disruption to thriving and respected local businesses.

If these buildings were derelict then I would understand why this might be a suitable brownfield site for new housing development, but that is not the case. The premises are fit for their existing purposes and are popular with visitors. They offer a welcome contrast to the numerous featureless buildings that dominate the canal and the surrounding streets.

The benefits of opening up access to the canal seem very limited in this situation. Visitors to Holborn Studios already have access to the waterside, passers-by can view the canal from the nearby Packington footbridge and the public already has unlimited access to the towpath. There is certainly room for improvement but no need for any drastic change.

The above comments should give you a taste of some of the views expressed by canal supporters who participate in our activities. In the event of a planning application being submitted you will receive more detailed comments from the various stakeholder groups who liaise with us. Please note that we do not automatically object to changes along the canal, but in the case of Holborn Studios many of us feel passionate about protecting one of the few remaining historic sites and about promoting the creative businesses that occupy it.


Ian Shacklock

Chair, Friends of Regent's Canal

Illustrated objection from Regents Network


Click here to open PDF file.

Objection following Friends of Regent's Canal public meeting 23rd Sep 2015

Dear Jonathan,

I am writing on behalf of the Friends of Regent's Canal to object unconditionally to the plans that would demolish the Holborn Studios buildings and would attempt to displace the photography professionals and their clients into an unsuitable basement.

Holborn Studios is an establishment that Hackney should be proud of. Their premises have been restored in a constructive and imaginative way that has generated ongoing employment and turned Hoxton into a destination for countless photographers, clients and visitors. The residents who joined guided tours at the recent Open Day were invariably impressed by the high standards of maintenance applied to these buildings. Nobody with any understanding of the day-to-day operations and ambience of those studios can say that the premises are past their sell-by date.

The latest Planning Statement has described the buildings as disjointed, underutilised and having a "light industrial feel" and it implies that they are being used as photographic studios because they have no other function in the modern world. These characteristics are actually selling points not failings. They demonstrate how a degree of lateral thinking has helped to put old industrial buildings to good use while making them attractive and inspiring places to visit or work in. I would expect Hackney Council to be championing this type of initiative and not seeking to raise the bar for employment density at every site in the borough.

I would like to remind the council of the strong support it received last year when it granted local listing status to all these buildings. Please see the following page for some examples of letters of support:


These organisations gave support on the assumption that ALL the buildings would be protected and that developers would not be free to pick and choose which buildings to destroy or decorate.

I am not going to go into too much detail on this occasion because I believe that the plan has failed to meet the council's requirement to safeguard the existing businesses. You will have already received advice from a studio director that the spaces in the basement are unfit for purpose. Even if they could be adapted for the technicians to work in, their low ceilings and other features would make them considerably less attractive for clients than the existing buildings.

From a canal user's perspective the new plans will ruin the landscape on a stretch where there is hardly any connection with the industrial heritage. The new frontage will virtually conceal the industrial chimney that is one of our main surviving landmarks in the area. The plans to replace the cafe with another cafe and to give the public a little extra access to the canal will offer trivial compensation for the losses we will suffer if this application is successful.

Please reject this application or advise the applicant to withdraw it.


Ian Shacklock

Chair, Friends of Regent's Canal

Further objections

There is no shortage of opposition to these proposals.

Click here to see other examples.

Objections to the previous application (2013)

Part One.

Part Two.

Related web pages

Planning App 2015/2596

How to object