A beloved music hub and community resource based in Abbey Wood has closed after being served notice by the Oxleas NHS Trust.

Abbey Music Studios was located within the grounds of Goldie Leigh Hospital, but was taken back by the Trust on June 1.

The studio provided rehearsal and recording rooms for local artists, bands and producers as well as offering free music therapy sessions to local NHS patients and individuals with mental health and learning difficulties.

A spokesperson for the NHS foundation trust explained Abbey Music Studios is a private company that pays rent for its property which is located at the and its lease expired last year.

The trust claims it has been discussing a need to relocate Abbey Music Studios for years and gave an extension to help the studios owner, Steve Norman, find a new property.

A change.org petition explained that there was allegedly a lack of any financial support from the NHS towards the renovation of the derelict building in the early 90s and that Abbey Wood Studios invested thousands of pounds in renovating the building.

The petition, which was set up by Tim Stanley, criticizes this saying that “they now want to take it back in its current condition, with no offers of compensation or alternative accommodation.”

The NHS Trust has been accused of abandoning a valuable community resource and cutting off an important service to mental health patients.

Oxleas NHS Trust explained that this is completely separate to the hospital and that the trust “does not have any arrangements with Abbey Music Studios to provide therapy or activities to our patients” but runs “a range of NHS music therapy services from our Highpoint House site in Woolwich”.

The trust has announced they will be using the former studio building for as a wellbeing hub and that its plans “will benefit a wider group of patients, carers, staff and local people”.

The counter-argument posed by petition creator Tim is that there are several other large, unused buildings within the hospital grounds, many of which have been empty for over three decades, which can serve the Trust's needs - but Oxleas disagreed with this point.

Famous names such as Mark Shaw, lead singer of Then Jerico, Jaz Ellington, members of Squeeze, T'Pau and Nine Below Zero, and even Lee Perry's famous backing band, The Upsetters, have all used the Studio to hone their craft.

The Official ABBA exhibition for 2021 was created at AMS, as was the recent Forever Young charity single for Ukraine.

AMS has also provided free music therapy services for nearly thirty years, enabling patients to play and learn musical instruments in “a supportive, friendly and safe environment”.

The sessions have helped hundreds of patients with mental health issues with their rehabilitation and encouraged them to socialise, learn new skills and retain their independence.

Supporters of AMS are urging the Trust to reconsider their decision, highlighting their points about the Studio's long contribution to the musical life of the community and its valued service towards the recovery of mental health patients.

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A spokesperson for Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust said: “Abbey Music Studios is a commercial business and the arrangement with Oxleas is as a private company renting a property from the trust.

“Mr Norman's lease expired last year.

“We had discussed the need to move several years ago and have again been actively discussing the need to relocate for several months and have given him an extension to help him find a new property.

“We are sorry that he has not been able to find suitable alternative accommodation for his business.

“We do not have any arrangements with Abbey Music Studios to provide therapy or activities to our patients.

“We run a range of NHS music therapy services from our Highpoint House site in Woolwich.

“We believe that the plans we are developing for the Goldie Leigh site will benefit a wider group of patients, carers, staff and local people.

“We regularly look at ways to improve our buildings and sites to be sure they work for the benefit of our patients and service users and continue to enhance the local environment. “Although our review of Goldie Leigh was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, our vision is to revitalise the site for modern health services and create better resources for the wellbeing of the local community - patients, staff and local people.

“To create a wellbeing hub, we will need to use the building currently occupied by Abbey Music Studios as unfortunately, the other buildings on the site are not suitable for this purpose or are already in use for other health service purposes.

“The wellbeing hub, we are planning with local charities, will offer physical and mental wellbeing activities and a space for community activities for patients, staff and local communities.

“When complete, Mr Norman may be able to use this community space for musical activities.”