Henry Scott-Irvine, right, overlooking the Crossrail developments with rock star Michael Monroe who recently released the song Dead Hearts On Denmark Street from the album Blackout States. Picture: Jerry Tremaine
Published: 22 January, 2016
by ALINA POLIANSKAYA
FOR years, Tin Pan Alley has been the beloved haunt for many in the music world.
David Bowie found his first agent there, The Rolling Stones recorded music there and Adele has belted out tunes there. But campaigners are now asking whether music “can afford to stay in Denmark Street?”
Henry Scott-Irvine, a radio presenter who has been leading the Don’t Bin Tin Pan Alley campaign, has questioned whether the long-standing tenants of the famous street on the edge of London’s West End, including guitar shops, instrument repair shops and music producers, will be driven out by rent rises that are likely to come with development.
He said: “It is the only street of music in the world of its kind. I think by 2020 there will be no music left in Denmark Street. The music industry needs to come and help. This is now a game of developer chess and we can see all the moves.”
Development plans for Denmark Street will include new restaurants, flats and a hotel, but music businesses will still have first priority when it comes to leasing space.
As part of an agreement with Camden Council, Consolidated Developments must offer current tenants the opportunity to continue renting the space – and if they choose not to do so, it must be put on the market for six months, up for grabs for other music businesses. But if there are no takers, the retail space can then be rented to anyone. But as property values go up in the area with the arrival of Crossrail, Mr Scott-Irvine fears music businesses will not be able to afford to stay. After the iconic 12 Bar Club vacated its home last year, shutting down and moving to Holloway Road in Islington, the developers plan to open a new music venue. But many feel the history and atmosphere cannot be replicated.
A petition to preserve the heritage of Tin Pan Alley and the 12 Bar Club’s former building – including The Forge – has been signed by more than 30,000 people, with the likes of Engelbert Humperdinck and Pete Townshend from The Who among supporters. The petition calls for the street to be made into “a fully rejuvenated Music Mecca” which “would present itself as a beacon for British Musicians”.
Richard Metcalfe, a property consultant for Consolidated Developments, said they were “100 per cent committed” to making sure “the music stays within the street”.
He added that current tenants will be offered long leases without break clauses and although there would be “some disruption” they had “bent over backwards to keep the music business there”.
But Mr Scott-Irvine remains unconvinced. He said: “Before there were guitar makers, music production companies, agents, managers and publishers.
“Some have moved out and will never return, so when they say they are trying to keep the music in Denmark Street, they are lying.”