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Council looks for fire station developers

Bid to transform ‘eyesore’ begins

Published on December 9th 2010.

Council looks for fire station developers

Manchester City Council has launched a search for a development partner to bring London Road Fire Station back to life.

The council and its advisers GVA Grimley are looking for a partner with ‘the financial resource and track record’ to redevelop the Grade II*-listed building as a four-star hotel and ensure its long term stewardship.

The building is currently subject to a Compulsory Purchase Order made by the council with a government decision expected in late spring.

Planning permission was granted to the building's current owners, Hale-based Britannia Hotels, in September 2010 for its conversion into a 227-room hotel.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "This is an iconic building in a gateway site but has been allowed to fall into disrepair and become an eyesore rather than an asset.

"London Road Fire Station is on English Heritage’s buildings at risk register and we are determined to bring it back into appropriate use, so it can make a positive contribution to the regeneration of the Piccadilly area, as soon as possible.

"While the current owners have obtained planning permission to convert the former fire station into a hotel, the council is yet to be satisfied that there is any guarantee this will be implemented.

"The building has been in the hands of its current owners for more than 20 years and although they have brought forward a number of previous planning applications dating back as far as 1986 nothing has ever been delivered.

"We want to make sure that if we are successful in obtaining a Compulsory Purchase Order we have a development partner in place to avoid delay in bringing this valuable asset back into use so that it supports our regeneration priorities. It is more important than ever that we remain committed to delivering the growth agenda of the city."

Potential development partners who want more information are invited to call Helen Jones, the council's head of corporate property on 0161 2341202.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousDecember 9th 2010.

50 quid says it's already decided that Argent (speciality mediocre builings) will get it!

AnonymousDecember 9th 2010.

On a previous thread someone suggested a part of this being a modern art/performance space - i hope whoever end sup developing this includes some public use as well, it looks like a brilliant venue!

AnonymousDecember 9th 2010.

What a shame if it does become a Brittania hotel. They're hardly renowned for doing nice hotels.

Peter RivendellDecember 9th 2010.

Why does it have to be a hotel...? we're not exactly short of hotels. More imagination please!

I'd be much happier if it was to become an arts centre/contemporary art gallery/performance space along the lines of Liverpool's Bluecoat. Restore the building, glaze over the central courtyard a la British Museum and open up the interior.

Culture vultureDecember 9th 2010.

I agree with the last comment, this building needs to be used for cultural purposes not another bloody hotel. Criminal if this corrupt council get's a CPO and give's it away to another developer for a commercial business. The council should put the Cornerhouse cinemas, gallaries, and the library in here rather than at that First Street white elephant they are proposing. Keep this building in the public domaine not sell it to a developer. You could even have an outdoor screen in the courtyard and a proper arts and craft centre.

RubytuesdaygirlDecember 10th 2010.

I also agree with the last couple of comments on her. Trouble is, its a huge building and so multi purpose is probably going to be neccessary unless they go with the boring option of a Hotel (which I hope they don't as we already have far too many hotels in the City, and because I work for a Hotel neaqrly next door to this proposed site).

I would propose a mixed development of residential, retail, hospitality (bar / restaurant) a farmers market in the central courtyard, and perhaps a museum on the history of the emergency services - in recognition of its former use...

manccitizenDecember 10th 2010.

yes i agree with the last few comments - multi use, cultural and a place people can 'use'. Enough hotels - unless it was a small boutique one - with other cultural uses incorporated on site. Encourage families to enjoy manchester not just the shops!

Peter RivendellDecember 10th 2010.

Families? Now you're going too far...

Is there anyway we can campaign against the hotel plan?

Manchester Guggenheim anyone?

AnonymousDecember 10th 2010.

Are you going to pay for it Peter? There's plenty of excellent cultural offerings in Manchester, and more to come, but for them to thrive they have to be funded in a smart way (eg the new cornerhouse and library theatre location).

I know it's heresy to say this on something like Mancon, hence the anonymous post, but why do people think we have too many hotels in Manchester? We don't - and in actual fact we need more to benefit from the fact that the city is now one of the major conference destinations in the UK and the world. Probably not as sexy as an ill-defined cultural "space" that would suck money from the local economy like a vampire bat, but conferences bring massive amounts of money into the city and keep people in jobs.

AnonymousDecember 15th 2010.

Interesting views on here and apologies for the anonymous post but as a Manchester Council employee I'm not allowed to say anything political in public. Well, first of all, I find it amazing that the Council is still pushing for funding for a CPO on this scale in spite of jet having been crippled by the spendig cuts. Well done. Which brings me to the point raised by 'culture vulture'. You say that it would be criminal if the council gave the building to another developer for commercial purposes. The council had the idea of having to make £20 million savings over the next 3 years. Then a couple of days ago the government announced that figure is likely to be increased by far. It is now looking like a big possibility that many many council employees will lose their jobs, at the detriment of ESSENTIAL services such as social care, homelessness environmental services etc. I'm sorry but do you really believe that the council has the money to, as you say 'put the Cornerhouse cinemas, gallaries, (sic) and the library in here rather than at that First Street white elephant they are proposing'? If so I think you need to open your eyes to the government this country has just voted in and the fact that we are heading towards very bleak times. Finally may I point out that the cornerhouse is not owned by Manchester City council nor are the majority of galleries in the city. And believe it or not, most City Council employees stuck in First Street would rather be anywhere but. Unfortunately being the poor relatives in public sector employment has it's price.

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