A much-loved music studio in the centre of Brixton is set to close after a landlord demanded they cough up an extra £32,000 per year.
Brixton Hill Studios in Brixton Hill has been providing music rehearsal spaces at a low cost for nearly a decade, but were told by their multi-million pound-valued landlord Lexadon they would need to pay a 133 per cent rent increase to renew their lease.
Stephen Gilchrist, founder of Brixton Hill Studios, has been living in Brixton since 2001, and called the move “devastating”.
“I started this because we needed a safe space to practice,” Mr Gilchrist said. “Since then it’s become a community. Brixton is a lively and culturally significant place because of places like this.
“The area is being decimated. There should be protection to make sure businesses don’t disappear.”
A managing agent for the property confirmed the studio had been offered to them for equivalent to “market value” to stay there, which they value at £56,000 per year.
The space has been home to musicians who have gone on to big success, such as post-punk band Shame and experimental rock band Black Midi.
Jimi Smith, from Edmonton, uses the studio regularly and said the move, combined with the possible closure of the nearby Brixton Academy, was “ripping the culture out of Brixton”.
“It’s really gutting,” Mr Smith said. “It’s such an important place to share ideas and make contacts. It’s really heartbreaking.
“There’s no acknowledgement of the cultural impact this has on the area. It’s purely just a number on a sheet for the landlord.”
The studio hires four workers who may now be out of a job. One of them, Jen Macro from Tottenham, has worked at the space for nearly 10 years and said they were “actively looking” for a new space.
“We’ve seen a community grow here,” said Jen. “Teachers, students and big bands have all come here. I don’t think there’s anything quite like it in the area.
“Somewhere as diverse and creative as Brixton needs a space like this.”
Ms Macro said the response to the news of the studio’s closure from the community had been “incredible”.
The studio is currently trying to mount a campaign to stay in the space and is urging the community to sign a petition that has started.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, MP for Streatham, visited the space recently and has thrown her support behind keeping it in the hands of Brixton Hill Studios.
Ms Ribeiro-Addy told the South London Press: “I’ve already received dozens of emails from people saddened by the impending closure of Brixton Hill Studios and worried about the impact this will have on our vibrant local music scene.
“Losing this space would be a real blow to all the local musicians and artists that rely on it.
“In an ideal world, Lexadon would rethink this extortionate rent increase, but at the very least, they should extend the lease to give Stephen and the team ample time to relocate and rebuild.”
A spokesman for Lexadon said: “Lexadon Property Group (LPG) purchased the site at 126 Brixton Hill in June 2016.
“At the time of the purchase they were all leased to tenants including Brixton Hill Studios (BHS) at Unit 1. The lease for Unit 1 BHS commenced in September 2013 and expires in September 2023.
“There is no right to renew within the terms of the lease. LPG instructed professional commercial agents to commence rent negotiations with the tenant in March 2023.
“BHS were then advised of the current market rents for similar units in the area as well as other units that are currently let at the site.
“LPG are happy to agree terms with BHS but it must be at the current market rent and similar to the other units occupying the site.
“Unfortunately BHS are unwilling to increase to the current market rent, therefore will have to vacate the premises.”
Pictured top: From left, Josh Finerty and Charlie Forbes from the band Shame, Brixton Hill Studio staff Nick Howiantz, Stephen Gilchrist, Alessio Costa, Jimi Scandal (Smith) and Charlotte Calfe. Front, studio Dog Rudy. (Picture: Stephen Gilchrist)
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