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Abstract artist Adrian Heath’s studio to be converted into flats

Charlotte Street Association - which painter helped found in 1970 - opposes changes to building

13 April, 2017 — By Tom Foot

The back of the late Adrian Heath’s studio in Charlotte Street

IT was once the work­place of one of the country’s most famous abstract artists, a specifically designed studio in Fitzrovia where the late Adrian Heath weaved his magic to create paintings that have hung on the walls of the Tate.

But, to the dismay of his admirers, the upper floors of 28 Charlotte Street are set to be divided up into three flats after councillors gave Mr Heath’s photographer son, Damon, permission to get started on the conversion.

In an ironic twist, the Charlotte Street Association, which Adrian Heath himself had helped found in 1970 with his wife, Corinne, to preserve the character of the bohemian neighbour­hood, were among the objectors to the switch.

In a deputation to the council’s planning committee on Thursday, Tony Tugnutt, from the Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee, said approving the changes was an “absolute travesty”. He added: “This house has a very special feeling when you go around it. It is an incredibly rare resource, in its cultural and architectural value.”

The building also included a famous workshop set up by Swedish modernist Birgit Skiöld in 1958, and was used by famous artists including David Hockney. Mr Heath, who died in 1992, had moved in at a similar time and is credited with providing an indispensable link between the abstract painters of St Ives and their Constructivist counterparts in London.

Clive Henderson, from the Charlotte Street Association, told the committee it was the “only remaining single family Georgian house in the street” and that “unlike most conversions it would not be possible to revert back to a family house”.

But Damon Heath’s application to the council had warned that “the existing house is not only dated, but inadequate by relative design standards that make it less than ideal for family occupation”. Adam Wilkinson, the agent acting for Mr Heath, said the new flats would be “sensitively designed” and that the project would make the building “greener and more attractive”.

The council’s planning officials, who report to councillors before a vote, meanwhile, had advised “the fact the building was previously the residence of a well-known artist does not represent sufficient reason for the retention of the building in its existing form”. There had been two years of discussions to get to the stage that the council would recommend the scheme for approval.

Nine councillors voted in favour of the plans, while two abstained.

The Rebecca Hossack Gallery – run by the former Conservative councillor – will remain untouched on the ground floor.

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