How did you find the old venue at Store Street?
The Store Street space was actually owned by the same people who owned the Boddingtons Brewery, which was the first location in 2006. We knew after that first year that a return to Boddingtons was nigh on impossible... There were some quite major issues with noise, and while there were some great events on that first run we really needed to move to a new location in 2007. We were already aware of the Store Street space and decided to do a short run of events in there over the Easter weekend. At that point we didn't consider actually moving the main series there as at first glance the idea of turning a car park into a fully functioning venue—and back again every week—seemed pretty impossible. But that weekend of shows was so good we took a second look and with some help from a very clever production team worked through all those issues.
What made it such a good place for The Warehouse Project?
After Boddingtons which, while iconic was quite a cold and relatively mundane space, Store Street had an intimacy about it. It's basically the foundations of Piccadilly train station, and the natural architecture in there is really interesting. It has a really industrial look which lends itself really well to WHP. Obviously from a location perspective it couldn't be any more ideal... It's located beneath the train station, so for people travelling in it couldn't be any more central.
Would you say the atmosphere of the venue has been essential to the series so far?
Yeah, absolutely. The atmosphere that is generated at Store Street across those three months is incredible and it's a huge decision to walk away from that. But the thought is that it would almost be a bit lazy to stay at Store Street—we'd rather close the book on that chapter while it's still absolutely banging rather than keep going until people eventually get jaded with it. Part of the idea of WHP was that it's not confined by bricks and mortar, or the need to be open 52 weeks a year, and could be nomadic, and experiment—whether we can re-create that atmosphere elsewhere remains to be seen. But either way it feels like the right decision to draw a line after 2011 and go for it. It's a big risk.
What will happen to the venue? Is it being demolished, renovated, etc?
Back in 2008 we thought we were going to lose the venue due to some major demolition works planned on a site just next door. The credit crunch and recession put that back, but there are some major works planned for Gateway House which is the 'S' building that snakes up on the station approach which would in the next year or two have put a question mark over whether we would have been able to continue in there anyway. Also the planning permission to use the site for events expires at the end of this year, and with the development planned around Piccadilly that would probably not have been extended. In the short term the Store Street site will just become a car park again. After that who knows, but there will be no return for WHP.
What do you have in mind for a replacement?
We have some ideas, but nothing set in stone yet...