The West End looks likely to gain a new subterranean hotspot, as the Standard reports that a Second World War air raid shelter under Soho Square has been put on the market for £175,000.
On top of the sale price, it’s estimated that whoever buys it will need to spend in the region of £2m to transform it from a Blitz hideout to a bustling recreation space — but this hasn’t put off would-be buyers.
Westminster Council is offering a long lease on the space, and says it has already had interest from three different restaurant groups as well as a gym operator and a music venue. The agents responsible for the sale reckon it's unlikely the council would allow it to be a bar.
If it were to become a restaurant, the so-called Soho Bunker wouldn’t be the area’s first subterranean eatery. Just across Oxford Street in Fitzrovia, café and coffee shop Attendant opened in 2013, in transformed underground toilets. Last year also saw the opening of wine and charcuterie bar WC in underground loos near Clapham Common station, and Ladies & Gentlemen in disused conveniences in Kentish Town.
It wouldn’t be the only air raid shelter to be put to foodie use, either. In Clapham, former Second World War shelters have been transformed into subterranean farms. They are being used to grow mushrooms, salad leaves and micro-herbs with the use of state-of-the-art low-energy light bulbs and an integrated hydroponics watering system. The resultant crops are served in some of the capital’s top restaurants, including Michel Roux Jr’s two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche in Mayfair.
Given the land beneath Soho Square is home to tunnels and platforms for both Northern line and Crossrail trains, presumably some serious sound-proofing would need to be done to prevent dinner being a tad deafening.
What would you like to see in the bunker space? Let us know in the comments below.