Harnham Bunker project gets the go ahead!

Harnham Bunker project gets the go ahead!

Published by The Spire FM News Team at 11:22pm 18th January 2016. (Updated at 6:38am 20th January 2016)

They got it! The Salisbury 'Sound Emporium' project will become the first of its kind in the UK. City Councillors voted in favour tonight (Monday 18 Jan).

They got it!  Salisbury's 'Sound Emporium' have been given permission to use the old Harnham Bunker as a dedicated youth music venue.

At a nail-biting meeting on Monday night (18 January), Salisbury City Council, who own the redundant 1950's building, backed the ambitious plan 100%.

For a while it looked as though City Councillors might block the scheme. But concerns about noise, litter, and safety issues which were expected to have lead to objections against the project, fizzled away at the last minute.

  • 'The Sound Emporium' is now set to create the FIRST EVER free, sustainable youth service of its kind in the UK. It's a dream come true for those behind the project.

Harnham Bunker

Ambitious youth project will now go ahead : Harnham Bunker

The 1950's former cold war bunker off the Old Blandford Road, which has been disused and empty for decades, can now be transformed into a dedicated recording studio and free music school for budding young musicians.

Leaders at 'The Sound Emporium' already have planning permission to convert the bunker. They were granted that on Thursday last week (14 January) in a unanimous vote by Wiltshire Council.

For the past 14 months, Ross Sanderson, who heads up the Sound Emporium youth project, has devoted his life to making this happen. In his first interview immediately following Monday night's exciting decision, Ross told Spire FM News how much this means to him:

"I stood there and told them all the truths, and was absolutely honest. I told them everything about all we do, and why we do it, and what we're looking to do in the future, and everybody seemed to get on board. They voted in favour on both motions."

Those two motions were:

  1. Salisbury City Council supports the use of the bunker as a dedicated youth music venue and agrees to a long term lease (minimum 25 years) at a peppercorn rent.
  2. Salisbury City Council support the use of £100k of funds from the Rowbarrow Estate for the bunker project as a youth music and education centre.

Ross had never given up hope, but he admits he was very nervous ahead of this pivotal meeting:

"I was optimistic, expecting hopefully a yes, but I didn't expect the vote to go so much in our favour if I'm honest."

Make no mistake. This is ground-breaking stuff.

The pressure has been on 'The Sound Emporium' because their current base - Hendrix House - is being sold and they have to move out by 31st March. It's fallen victim to youth service funding cuts by Wiltshire Council. That's why the Harnham Bunker decision has been such a big deal. The Sound Emporium had already said the 'Bunker' was the best option because it doesn't need any taxpayers money. The £100k which will be spent renovating and converting it is coming from a pot of cash left by developers of the Rowbarrow Estate.


The City Council meeting started at 6.30pm, and at 9.30pm, 15 minutes after hearing the decision, Ross from 'The Sound Emporium' called Spire FM and spoke to Mike Draper (click play):

Read more of the background to this story here:  www.spirefm.co.uk/news/local-news


Ross and his team have a received a great deal of practical and moral encouragement from a large number of people, many of whom shared and celebrated The Sound Emporium's achievement via social media. City Councillor, Tom Corbin is among them, and also Tracy Biggins, who spotted Ross celebrating the result of the council vote: 



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