Southampton’s vibrant music scene may be facing a significant blow as plans to replace the beloved Firehouse music venue with a towering student accommodation complex move closer to realization. The proposed 13-storey development at 10-12 Pound Tree Road, initially granted planning permission in 2019, is now under review by the Planning and Rights of Way Panel, with a decision expected this week.
Originally spearheaded by Terramek Developments Ltd, the project’s torch has now been passed to Danehurst after the property changed hands. The envisioned tower is designed to house 139 students and feature amenities such as a social lounge, study rooms, a fully equipped gym, sky lounge, laundry facilities, and cycle parking.
The proposed transformation has not been without controversy, with objections raised by figures like Councillor Sarah Bogle, representing the Bargate ward. Concerns about overdevelopment and the cultural impact of losing the Firehouse venue have fueled the opposition. Councillor Bogle stated during the consultation, “The proposal would involve the loss of a music venue, which affects the cultural offer of the city. There are also residents living in the flats above who are in a precarious position and need to ensure their needs are considered.”
The Firehouse, acknowledging the uncertain future it faced, took to social media in September to inform its loyal patrons about the potential relocation. In a shared statement, they expressed gratitude for the continued support and optimism about finding a new home: “After many months of planning and surveys, a development company are due to submit new plans to the council imminently. Whilst this still doesn’t provide us with any definitive dates for our closure, it does allow us to roughly estimate that this is likely to be our last full year at this current premises.”
The venue, which has been an integral part of Southampton’s cultural landscape, remains determined to adapt and thrive under new circumstances. The statement continued, “Whilst the industry is certainly more challenging now when compared with the pre-pandemic age, we still believe that we can continue to be successful under a new roof. As always, we thank you all so much for your continued support!”
Notably, the original plans approved in 2019 outlined a 13-storey residential tower. However, in 2022, Danehurst engaged in discussions with the city council, proposing a shift in the project’s focus towards purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA). This alteration has added an extra layer of complexity to the decision-making process, as the local authorities weigh the potential benefits of increased student housing against the loss of a cultural hub.
As Southampton awaits the outcome of the Planning and Rights of Way Panel meeting on Tuesday, the fate of the Firehouse venue hangs in the balance. The city finds itself at a crossroads, torn between the necessity for additional student accommodation and the preservation of its artistic and musical heritage. The decision reached this week will undoubtedly shape the future landscape of Pound Tree Road and the heart of Southampton’s cultural identity.