Council makes second London Road Fire Station CPO bid

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Manchester City Council is due to meet on Wednesday to discuss a second attempt to buy the London Road Fire Station from owner Britannia Centres, using compulsory purchase powers.

Britannia was granted planning permission to convert the fire station into a 227-bed hotel in 2010. The council sought to use CPO powers to acquire the site in 2011 but was unsuccessful, after Britannia owner Alex Langsam objected. Following a public inquiry, a planning inspector ruled that the redevelopment of the building was "more likely to come forward under Britannia's auspices than the council's".

However, a report to the council's executive pointed out that three years on, no progress has been made.

The report highlighted Britannia's "lack of genuine intention" to develop the building. The executive committee is requested to agree to a CPO, unless Britannia confirms within six weeks that it will enter into a legally binding implementation agreement to deliver on existing planning consent for the property. The council also requested access to the building for structural surveys.

Britannia has owned the London Road Fire Station for 27 years. The building was given a grade 2-listed status in 1974 and placed on the English Heritage at Risk Register in 1998.

GVA has been commissioned by the council to provide a financial analysis of the conversion into a hotel, using the existing planning permission as a basis. Repair costs are estimated to be between £6m and £9m, which the council would hope to cover through a back-to-back purchase and sale of the building. The report said the council intended to work alongside a developer or buyer to design a viable scheme.

The report said: "The executive is asked to note the importance of the London Road Fire Station to the long term regeneration of the wider Piccadilly area which has long been recognised.

"Redevelopment of the fire station will result in an improved hotel offer and support the growth of the tourist economy."

Cllr Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "London Road Fire Station is a wonderful landmark building with the potential to make a significant contribution to the regeneration of the Piccadilly area.

"But over more than a quarter of a century, it has been allowed to blight this part of the city centre instead. The building's current owners have presided over its deterioration and disuse. Despite making public commitments to bring it back into use, they have so far failed to demonstrate any genuine intention to do so. In this case, their inaction speaks louder than words.

"We are giving them one last chance but they need to act quickly to take it. The people of Manchester have waited long enough for this fine heritage building to be brought back to life, and we will do everything in our power to make sure this happens."

Britannia was unavailable for comment.

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Good luck MCC. Britannia Group have behaved despicably in this matter. Absolutely laughable!!!

By Andrea Baron

Well done MCC – don’t give up! This has a massive potential to uplift the wider city.

By architect

Go for it MCC, a lot of professional people and companies have wasted a lot of time and money whilst dancing to Britannia’s tune over the last few years.

By bingbong

I refer you to my previous comment from 2012….. Quick question… How many 4 star hotels do Brittania currently operate….. I dont believe they have any intension of redeveloping this manchester landmark. Having had the pleasure of walking around this fantastic building, I was saddened to see the building in such a state of dis-repair, and it being used as storage for all the tat that Brittania have hoarded over the years.… comment by Anonymous Reader | 13/01/2012 13:31:22

By Robbo

We welcome the council’s repeat efforts to develop this important site and bring it back into use. There is no excuse for delay – why should an entire city come to a halt simply due to the fact that now inactive owners slow down progress?

By the whalley ranger