London Road Fire Station for sale

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

The London Road Fire Station in Manchester city centre has been put up for sale as a hotel development opportunity by owner Britannia, with 'substantial freehold offers' sought for the grade two-listed building.

Specialist leisure and hospitality property adviser Christie + Co has been instructed to market the building which is next to Piccadilly railway station.

Britannia has owned the London Road Fire Station for 27 years. Britannia was granted planning permission to convert the fire station into a 227-bed hotel in 2010. The council sought to use compulsory purchase powers to acquire the site in 2011 but was unsuccessful, after Britannia assured a public inquiry in 2011 that works to develop the building were imminent.

At the end of 2014 the council proposed a second attempt to CPO the building, and in a report highlighted Britannia's 'lack of genuine intention' to develop the property.

A report by GVA estimated repair costs to the building of between £6m to £9m.

Designed in an Edwardian Baroque style by Woodhouse, Willoughby and Langham in red brick and terracotta, the building was completed in 1906, operating for some 80 years in a variety of civil guises prior to its closure and subsequent sale in 1986.

The property was given a grade 2-listed status in 1974 and placed on the English Heritage at Risk Register in 1998.

Campaign group Friends of London Road Fire Station have been lobbying for sympathetic redevelopment of the site. According to the group's twitter account, a number of members met with Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, this afternoon to discuss 'development hopes' for the property.

A spokesman for Britannia Hotels said: "The dynamics of the UK's hotel market have improved significantly since 2009 and Manchester's key trading characteristics have returned strongly. Following a number of successful development transactions in the city and the high profile single asset sale of the Lowry for example, we feel the time is now appropriate to conduct an open and transparent sales process."

A Manchester City Council spokesman said: "The regeneration of the Piccadilly area is at a pivotal stage and the re-use of the London Road Fire Station as a hotel will improve the appearance of the wider area, create new jobs and maximise the opportunities created through HS2. The council supports the sale of this important landmark building."

Detailed survey work on the building will continue while the sales process is ongoing.

The sale is being jointly handled by Jeremy Jones, head of hotels brokerage at Christie + Co alongside his colleague, Jon Patrick, Christie + Co's head of leisure and development.

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