Plans for London Road Fire Station could incorporate a range of uses including hotel, restaurants, and start-up offices when new owner Allied London takes possession of the property in March 2016.
Speaking at the first of a series of consultation meetings on the fire station at Old Granada Studios, Aliied London chief executive Michael Ingall presented his initial thoughts on the future of the building and stressed the importance of creating a commercially viable scheme after paying “a very full price” for the property.
Allied London was revealed as the purchaser of the grade two-listed building next to Piccadilly station last month. The fire station was put on the market in April with a price tag of around £10m.
The property has been the subject of controversy in Manchester for a number of years due to the property falling into a state of disrepair under the stewardship of owner Britannia Hotels.
See below for images inside London Road Fire Station
Following the announcement that it had exchanged contracts to buy the station, Allied London initially said that the scheme would be known as Manchester Firehouse, but at the consultation event Ingall announced that the brand had been changed to Create London Road.
At the start of the event Ingall stressed that Allied London was not intending to create one big use out of the fire station.
“This is a project that will be a catalyst for this part of the city,” he said. “If Manchester wants to be an international city, we need international-class assets.
“The building lends itself naturally to a hotel, but small and premium rather than the whole event. It would also need to be of an international quality, which in my opinion doesn’t exist at the moment.
“We don’t want to create another Northern Quarter, or Spinningfields, or Corn Exchange. We want to make it iconic.”
With several large spaces within the building, such as the original Court Room or the 6,000 sq ft Engine House, Ingall suggested that the developer would employ a light-touch approach, and seek operators that would use the rooms “without disturbing the architecture”.
Ingall spotlighted suggestions from Friends of London Road Fire Station, a vocal campaign group that has been advocating the sale and restoration of the building. According to a survey conducted by the group, the three most popular potential uses for the fire station were museum, heritage and arts. The most unpopular were social housing, offices or private apartments, which Ingall said showed “tensions creeping in” between campaigners’ wishes and the developer’s goals in terms of viability
Ingall did not dismiss using part of the building for art galleries, or flexible office space for start-ups.
By March, Allied London aims to have defined potential operators for the building, with a planning application submitted by August or September. Planning consent is targeted for March 2017.
Architect Levitt Bernstein and engineer Cundalls have been linked to the project.
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