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Crunch Time For London Road Fire Station

Council could snatch landmark building from Britannia Hotels

Written by . Published on November 17th 2014.


Crunch Time For London Road Fire Station
 

UPDATE 17/11/14 (3pm) - Britannia respond to deadline with vague letter stating intent to work with Council on London Road Fire Station:

UPDATE 17/11/14 (5pm) - Council issue 'holding statement' while they consider their next move:

A Manchester City Council spokesman said: "We are considering the contents of this letter, which we have not yet formally received, and will make a statement on our position once we have had a chance to do so."

UPDATE 18/11/14 (7am) - Fire Station campaigners plead with supporters to email Council leaders directly to pursue Compulsory Purchase Order:

                                                                                       

BRITANNIA Hotels, recently voted the UK's worst hotel provider for the second year running, has until the close of today (Monday 17 November) to sign a legal declaration to redevelop Manchester's landmark London Road Fire Station.

The building's current owners have presided over its deterioration and disuse. Despite making public commitments to bring it back into use.

Should Britannia fall short, Manchester City Council have stated their intention to secure a new Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for the crumbling Grade II-listed building - completed in 1906.

Compulsory purchase powers allow authorities to obtain land to carry out a function which Parliament has decided is 'in the public interest' without the consent of the owner.

Britannia, based in Hale, have owned London Road Fire Station since 1986.

The council did make a similar move for the building back in 2010, but the CPO was rejected in November 2011 by the government after Britannia made promises to begin work on the deteriorating structure.

Nothing has happened and the building has been 'left to rot' for nearly three decades.

For some context read our stories herehere and here.

London Road Fire Station 2

London Road Fire Station 4London Road Fire Station is in a poor state of disrepair

On Friday 14 November, campaign group Friends of London Road Fire Station presented the council with a petition of 5,350 signatures asking that the building be saved from Britannia.

Adam Prince, a campaigner for the group, told Confidential:

"We're behind the council's CPO and really want to work with them to save this hugely at risk Manchester landmark and finally seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to so something exceptional with the building.

"We want to see a community space, museum exhibitions, art spaces, retail at ground level, perhaps even a glazed courtyard with botanical gardens. Something exciting and dynamic for Manchester."

Council leader, Sir Richard Leese, said in September:

“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.

"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.”

News on the future of London Road Fire Station is expected by the morning of Tuesday 18 November 2014.

www.londonroadfire.org

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

Fingers CrossedNovember 17th 2014.

I really hope we get this building back and we use it wisely. Friends of London Rd Fire Station have some brilliant ideas is love to see come to fruition.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

Are any of the 'friends of' ideas realistic though, backed up by a credible business plan? If not then a second CPO would have no chance of succeeding if it was based on someone's back of a fag packet ideas

Fingers CrossedNovember 17th 2014.

Of course they are. This is a huge building that could house so many different things and make it a must see destination.

Adam PrinceNovember 17th 2014.

NB: Ideas. Discussions and showing public support necessary to win CPO. We welcome debates and visions and will be working towards media events. We are advocating architectural participation and planning dialogue for better outcomes where possible. We have seen to many decisions absent of this in Manchester. See the CPO expert we are working with view on the case (www.mediafire.com/…/IRRV_Valuer_Journal_May_2013_-_CPOs_Listed_Buildings.pdf…). We are only drawing from our survey results and advocate a discussion around any feasible model but one with public access and possibilities that are ambitious. Without any debate, without any questions or partners, of course nothing will happen. Britannia cannot and will never deliver this At Risk Icon that is at its tipping point. We welcome architect, public visions, developers contact or just written enquiries/ points of view or requests to help to info@londonroadfire.org

rinkydinkNovember 17th 2014.

Let's hope they don't sign. We don't need another hotel ran by them in this city

AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

If the CPO is a success then maybe the council will sell it off for a loss to a developer that will knock it down and build a hotel out of glass and steel or apartments with a dodgy roof.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
HbiffNovember 17th 2014.

You really shouldn't have bothered.

GimboidNovember 17th 2014.

Totally agree, hotels should only be built of wattle and daub or perhaps wood. That was what you meant, right?

AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

Yes.

AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

Here we go. The games begin. Please MCC do not fall for this. We must get this insidious lot out now! s1.postimg.org/…/B2pjg58_CYAAIn_Qj.jpg…

angieNovember 17th 2014.

Please make this building into something amazing, it deserves it!! a gorgeous boutique hotel or character apartments. No need for community area or art installations, they won't bring in the money to recoop what has to be paid to renovate. It is going to take years and millions of £££'s. It needs a big invester with a history of restoring beautiful buildings! any takers????

6 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

The British Museum North?

Neil SimpsonNovember 17th 2014.

That is a fantastic idea!

AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

I can imagine the station yard covered with one of those glass roofs like the Great Court of the British Museum in Bloomsbury. Always go to see it when I'm in London.

AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

Something like that would be utterly jaw dropping here. Want this to happen so much.

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

To compliment its new neighbour, a Motel Two is more likely I'm afraid. Right, Mr Bernstein & Mr Leese?

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

Oops, "complement" sorry.

Susan PineNovember 17th 2014.

the council are complaining that they have a deficit of £60m this year alone. Just where would the funds come from to "regenerate" this building? They will no doubt give it away to a developer, as they always do. This council have presided over the managed decline and lack of investment in East Manchester for many years, it would be interesting to see what they do this time.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
Matt BradyNovember 17th 2014.

Compared to 20 years ago I think East Manchester is doing quite well. It was a crime ridden area, lots of boarded up houses that people were still living in. It might not be perfect now but it's improved a lot.

AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

An absolutely bonkers rant there "Susan".

AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

"This council have presided over the managed decline and lack of investment in East Manchester for many years" You mean except for the recently announced £1bn investment courtesy of the benevolent Sheikh?

rinkydinkNovember 17th 2014.

Erm, the funds would be private?

GimboidNovember 18th 2014.

" Just where would the funds come from to "regenerate" this building? They will no doubt give it away to a developer, as they always do." You've answered your own question there. The council CPO it, sell it (NOT give it away) onto a private developer that has the resources to redevelop it. So at a relatively minor cost to the public pocket, one of Manchester's unused heritage assets gets refurbished and repurposed, tidying up a grotty spot and attracting further investment into the city. What exactly is there to complain about that?

rinkydinkNovember 18th 2014.

Expertly put Gimboid. Susan's barking

Susan PineNovember 17th 2014.

its improved because Manchester city council CPO'd lots of homes, closed local businesses down and gave the land away to a Yorkshire based development company.

1 Response: Reply To This...
rinkydinkNovember 18th 2014.

Care to expand, madam?

MGSNovember 17th 2014.

you know nothing of The Crunch

CKRISGNovember 17th 2014.

We want to see a community space, museum exhibitions, art spaces, retail at ground level, perhaps even a glazed courtyard with botanical gardens. Something exciting and dynamic for Manchester." That's not going to happen is it, a hotel or flats (but no affordable apartments, as that might cut the profit margin.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Fingers CrossedNovember 17th 2014.

I'd love that to happen. Something different, something interesting. I'm not holding out much hope though.

Adam PrinceNovember 17th 2014.

The CPO would involve going to court for the MINIMAL resale price to another developer. The campaign has heard of interested parties and developers who want to take on the building. In 2006 a schema was to be where the music lives. The pessimism this building can only be a private hotel is foolishness. We have started an email campaign to insist on a CPO as the letter is not legally binding again. We are advocating the discussion of visions and public support absent in the last CPO. Of-course it has to be viable, but there are many ways to meet that and not only be an exclusive private building that excludes public access. Franchises and partners could be possible an at least the debate will prove public interest central to a CPO. We have had support from President of RIBA, CEO English Heritage, Victorian Society, have had discussion with large developers, we are 1/10 National Icons on CADO campaign and 1/5 most important At Risk icons according to English Heritage. We can believe in meeting business, community, public space and exhibition and event space as a successful model. The campaign has worked hard and in a survey of 200, and made a model (s29.postimg.org/…/ideas.jpg…), which is of-course flexible is just an idea welcome to debate and from events had use ideas, some feasible, others not desirable perhaps (s14.postimg.org/…/being.png…). Most importantly the Icon must be won and no more games from Britannia. Pessimism can become optimism and we are prepared to fight. Email the support for a CPO as take only a paragraph.

AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

Can someone tell me why marketing manchester push business towards Britannia hotels? They are an embarrassment and are the worst hotel chain in the country? Cut all ties with this company. We deserve better.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Not that David!November 18th 2014.

+1

Jill JillianNovember 17th 2014.

Why doesn't someone just ask the guy who owns it ,how much it wants for it ,instead of telling him what to do with his own property.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

4 planning going permissions. Many offers to buy it at market value. Keep up.

Jill JillianNovember 17th 2014.

There's a difference between what he wants for it and what someone wants to pay for it . derrrr

17 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

Market value is market value which may or may not match the owners expectations, if they even want to sell. Which they dont. Duh.

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

Well, no one is going to cave into a silly price, are they Jill? Thus, people will pay market value for it. I do hope you don't run a business yourself (derrr).

Jill JillianNovember 18th 2014.

Four actually , what about you , and twice been put through the wringer by Manchester City Council's dirty tricks dept. otherwise known as Special Projects run by shadowy figures who never show their faces , and work with other interested parties to get what they want by any means.

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

These are public funds. The council is obliged to pay market value and no more. You sound like some appalling greedy landlord out to rip off the tax payer for whatever you can get. Despicable.

Jill JillianNovember 18th 2014.

Only if they manage to obtain a CPO , which they won't , blow another million pound while telling us how many essential services their cutting .

rinkydinkNovember 18th 2014.

It would be worth ten times a million pounds to get that crooked operator out of that building and frankly, out of the city

GimboidNovember 18th 2014.

Jill I'm interested to know more about being put through the wringer by the council, because I'm tempted to think it's hogwash but trying to be open minded. I'd really like to know more about this shadowy conspiracy, can you furnish us with more details?

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

Essential services are being cut by central government. Funds to buy the fire statuon would presumably be from a capital pot and thus cannot be used to top up revenue used to pay for services.

Jill JillianNovember 18th 2014.

Google , Penny Boothman MCC and come back to me.

Jill JillianNovember 19th 2014.

The Councils press machine has gone quite all of a sudden !!!

AnonymousNovember 19th 2014.

What council press machine? Don't kid yourself that anyone of any importance wastes their time responding to anonymous rants on a website. If you want to libel yourself that's your call however.

Jill JillianNovember 19th 2014.

Lamb Brothers 4 Cakebread St M12 6HF. Not lying ,not anonymous ,not worried.

AnonymousNovember 19th 2014.

I can't be arsed trawling google. Rather than posting cryptic clues why dont you just say what you think the problem is.

GimboidNovember 19th 2014.

The first two pages of Google search results for 'Penny Boothman MCC' unsurprisingly do not reveal anything that appears to be relevant to your posts. How about actually saying what you mean instead of obliquely referring to it? No-one is interested enough to go off playing detective to confirm your assertions - it's up to you, if you want anyone to take you seriously.

AnonymousNovember 19th 2014.

So? Still no idea what you're going on about Jill.

GimboidNovember 19th 2014.

Either stop with the pointlessly cryptic posts and explain your assertions properly, or do one. Either way please stop wasting everyone's time.

rinkydinkNovember 17th 2014.

So they've agreed with the council to develop it. Worst possible outcome. They haven't got a clue

EdwardNovember 17th 2014.

I hope it gets turned into flats. What a great place to live inside of.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

Deserves to be so much more than that. We need to share this great building with everyone who comes here. Flats would be such a waste.

AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

'We' don't own it though.

Geoffrey EntwistleNovember 17th 2014.

If MCC cannot say in its application for a CPO that it has a funded scheme in mind which is in the public interest then once again the application will be refused. Am I right?

Alex24November 17th 2014.

If you are p*ssed off about this, before leaving a rant here, please email h.bernstein@manchester.gov.uk or r.leese@manchester.gov.uk to support the CPO. It's a critical point and the council need to know how we feel.

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

I really don't understand Langsam's motives, not even the commercial ones. What good will come of this? What are his goals behind sitting on a rapidly depreciating asset, besides further fuelling an apparently mean-spirited and seemingly wholly personal feud against Manchester City Council? Perhaps he hopes the site will be deemed brownfield in 20 years' time if he clings on at all costs. But then what, and why? It is surely a bit over-simplistic to take the view that the apparently flagrant contempt that his company is perceived to hold against each and every one of his unwitting customers, booking into his allegedly appalling hotels, is also a mirror of the contempt that he seems to hold towards Manchester City Council and, by extension, every individual who cares about Manchester's heritage and the future potential of the Fire Station. Those sorts of assumptions might lead to conclusions that he is a bitter, failed, isolated, deeply insecure and utterly miserable individual, devoid of any meaningful human feelings except the need to present the image that he is still fighting a fight. There must be more to it than that.

8 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

No, I don't think there is anything more to it. That sums it up perfectly.

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

You are right. But profit and greed, especially with HS2 and northern rail extension means land speculation value too. The land is worth more than the building he is destroying. Friends have urgently asked for safety measures and monitoring of building and Council must use those powers. The vile vendetta is worrying. We are getting many really great letters being sent to us and have launched an email campaign from 3pm yesterday until we hear the Council's position. Do send even a paragraph to h.bernstein@manchester.gov.uk; r.leese@manchester.gov.uk asap & support CPO Manchester must win #LRFS before too late. We cannot let these _____ destroy Heritage and steal this Icon from us.

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

Some real inverted snobbery here; this man owns the largest privately owned hotel chain in the UK and is apparently worth about £70M. Doesn't sound like a failure to me. I don't think anyone knows the amount he paid for the building 20 years ago but I would imagine he has made more money from doing nothing with it and allowing the site to increase in value than he would if he'd spent money developing it and running it as a hotel. It will have been used as a secured asset to fund his other business expansion, such as the purchase of Pontin's.

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

@Above with the years of controversy, he could have avoided some of the negativity if he'd have been more transparent.

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

I couldn't care less how much he owns. All that says is that he managed to buy some well-located property at the right time. What I do know is that hotel chain that he owns has been rated the worst in the country. Doesn't strike me as something to be particularly proud of.

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

So he is worth £70M, why doesn't he spend some on the fire station? It is a listed building and leaving it to rot will make it more expensive to repair and convert. If he can't see a profit in it now, how will he with further deterioration? He is allowing it to fall into ruin and there are solutions.

rinkydinkNovember 18th 2014.

And spent some more on his already existing utterly shite hotels?

rinkydinkNovember 18th 2014.

Spend

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

Where's "Manchester's City Centre Spokesman" when you need him?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

Last I saw, he was sitting in a bin on Market Street for some publicity stunt.

rinkydinkNovember 18th 2014.

Sat on top of the Christmas tree on Albert Square

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

Vile little man...

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

hit britannia where it hurts give all their hotels shit reviews on Tripadvisor

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

A coffee shop on each corner would be ace. One from each of the big chains.

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

Britannia hotels are the worst hotels EVER.....FACT. Please don't let them change this into a hotel!!!!

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

I hope they include a bar wave into this hotel, who can complain about a pint for £1.70 these days? From 9an too, most bars in the area can't be bothered to open until 12 at the earliest and charge twice as much for a drink! And have you tried booking a room by the hour at other hotels? Most make you pay for the whole night!

James SmithNovember 18th 2014.

Lose, lose situation at the minute. Only have to look what MCC did with the Free Trade and what is planned for the Theatre Royal to see that they will hardly be the best custodians for the building.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
rinkydinkNovember 19th 2014.

Free Trade is now a beautiful 5 star Radisson Edwardian and isn't the the Theatre Royal going to be an extension of this? Looks pretty good to me

GimboidNovember 19th 2014.

The Radisson is is a reasonably successful adaptation, but its previously considerable value to the majority of the people of Manchester was lost when it was closed as a concert hall, and the redevelopment privatised what had been a public building. I think this is what people resent, and what James is referring to.

rinkydinkNovember 19th 2014.

Fair comment but time has moved on I guess. The Theatre Royal was going to be the base of the Intercontinental Tower which looked amazing. Another hotel I know but it's a big shame that didn't happen

JoanNovember 19th 2014.

.....and the Concert Hall had already been replaced with The Bridgewater Hall.

GimboidNovember 19th 2014.

Which is privately owned.

James SmithNovember 19th 2014.

The Free Trade Hall was a public building. It is nothing short of disgraceful that the place is a hotel. Some of the most significant events in the history of Manchester occurred there, as well as some that have impacted on modern history. It could be argued to be one of the most important public buildings in the world yet it was sold to a hotel chain for the princley sum of £10 million. Unforgivable.

Kevin PeelNovember 20th 2014.

I'm waiting to hear what this means for the CPO from the council. However Britannia have made many promises in the past, none of which they have honoured. What is different this time?

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