‘We can work together’ on fire station, says Britannia

Britannia Centres has issued a statement saying that it would be "happy to enter into a development agreement" on the London Road Fire Station, following Manchester City Council's threat that it would use compulsory purchase powers on the building.

In September, the council's executive committee agreed to acquire the property through a CPO, unless Britannia confirmed by 17 November that it would enter into a "legally binding implementation agreement" to deliver on existing planning consent for the property.

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 in September pointed out that three years on, no progress has been made, and highlighted Britannia's "lack of genuine intention" to develop the building.

In a letter sent to the press, Robert Ferrari, financial director at Britannia, said: "We would like to work in partnership with Manchester Council on the development of the fire station and understand that a development agreement to be jointly agreed is being proposed.

"To that end we are happy to enter into a development agreement with the council's co-operation.

"Can I suggest that you propose a range of items that you would like to see included in the development agreement and we can hopefully work together."

As of yesterday evening, it is understood that the council had not yet received a copy of the letter. A Manchester City Council spokesman said: "We are considering the contents of this letter and will make a statement on our position once we have had a chance to do so."

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.

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The council really need to get this site out of Britannia Hotels clutches. This is the worst hotel chain in the UK and anyone that has stopped at one of their “hotels” will testify to this. Social services and the Immigration service are frequent users of the hotels for emergency accomodation. This gives you an idea of the level of luxury and service they offer. A group like the Hilton would be much better for the building and its historic standing in Manchester.

By David Bell