De Lane Lea, the facility worst affected by this summer’s Soho fire, will reopen with bigger and better studios in the new year, according to its chief executive.
Huw Penallt Jones detailed the damage caused to the audio post house as a result of the 10 July fire, which started in the office next door on Dean Street. Nearby buildings were evacuated as 100 firefighters fought to control the blaze.
No one was hurt, but smoke caused major damage to De Lane Lea and its six dubbing theatres, leaving the company unable to provide its usual services.
Penallt Jones revealed that De Lane Lea staff have been completing previously booked work using suites at Pepper, Pinewood Studios and Goldcrest, but said some major feature film work has inevitably had to be turned away.
“It took a while to sink in but there was never a question that we would throw in the towel,” he said. “Telling clients we couldn’t accommodate them was the hardest part.”
Control of the building will be returned to De Lane Lea on 18 December and Penallt Jones is adamant that the enforced refurbishment will turn out to be a positive for the company.
“We’ve used the downtime to improve things,” he said. “The studios have been pretty much ripped apart. Acousticians are enhancing the design. Desks will be updated and all six theatres modernised and have a better spec [than before the fire].”
Insurance payouts will cover the cost of replacing equipment and De Lane Lea is also investing in order to make improvements.
The audio mixing desks are being renewed and updated by their manufacturer, AMS Neve. The facility should be fully operational by the end of January 2010.
De Lane Lea’s TV credits include dramas Oliver Twist (BBC) and Persuasion (ITV).