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London Road Fire Station: Council Chase Second CPO

Council state 'no confidence' in Britannia Hotels and will push to seize the historic site for a second time

Written by . Published on December 17th 2014.


London Road Fire Station: Council Chase Second CPO
 

UPDATE 17/12/14 15:40: Britannia Hotels reject the Council's 'cleverly drafted one-sided Forced Sale Contract' on the basis that it 'takes away all of their rights'...

 

MANCHESTER City Council will push to seize Manchester's Grade II-listed London Road Fire Station - listed on English Heritage's 'at risk register' since 1998 - from the negligent Britannia Hotels group for a second time in four years.

“The building’s owners have shown a reckless abandon in their management of what is an incredibly important, landmark property"

On Monday 22 December members of the City Council's Executive committee will be urged to approve the move for a second Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the London Road Fire Station site - three years after the first CPO was rejected by Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles.

The Hale-based Britannia Centres Limited (BCL) - recently voted the UK's worst hotel provider for the second year running - acquired the Grade II-listed London Road Fire Station site in 1986 when the fire service relocated.

In 2010 the hotel group, owned by Alex Langsam, revealed plans to convert the 'ebullient Edwardian Baroque style' structure into a 227-bed, four-star hotel.

However, since their acquisiton of the site nearly three decades ago, Britannia have reneged on numerous commitments to begin work and the building has fallen into grave disrepair.

For some context on the battle for London Road Fire Station read here, herehere and here.

London Road Fire Station once upon a timeLondon Road Fire Station once upon a time

In September 2014, City Council leader, Sir Richard Leese, issued a six week 'last chance' ultimatum to Britannia, to either enter into a legally-binding implementation agreement to develop the property as a hotel or face a second attempt by the Council to secure a CPO by the Secretary of State.

Come crunch time on 17 November 2014 and Britannia's Chief Financial Officer, Robert Ferrari, finally responded to the Council's threat of a CPO by stating that Britannia were 'happy to enter into a development agreement with the Council's cooperation'.

However, the subsequent Council report (published on Tuesday 16 December and available to read in detail here) states "the Council has yet to receive a response from BCL" (1.28) and that "there is a significant history of the current owner failing to deliver redevelopment" (2.9).

The report also states that whilst the Council remains open to entering into an Implementation Agreement with Britannia during the CPO process, the Council has "no confidence that any scheme will be implemented in the near future" and that it is "unlikely that agreement will be reached with BCL within a reasonable timescale, or at all" (1.30).

London Road Fire Station has fallen into disrepair following nearly three decades of neglectLondon Road Fire Station has fallen into disrepair following nearly three decades of neglect

However, should the Council acquire control of the redevelopment, the report states that there will be considerable interest from "hotel operators not currently represented in Manchester who would see the Fire Station as a robust proposition" (5.4). 

Robust or not, Manchester City Council will still have to persuade Parliament that the greater public benefit will 'outweigh the private loss' - which would be subject to compensation under the government's CPO code.

According to the report, should the Council acquire the building, the former fire depot could require between £6m to £9m in repairs. Though the Council hope that competition for the site between developers will incur 'no cost' to them (5.7).

Sir Richard Leese said: “We would still welcome a positive response from Britannia to our request for an implementation agreement as set out in our letter in October – but currently we are fighting for the future of this building and the significant contribution bringing it back in to use will give to the regeneration of Piccadilly.

Sir Richard Leese: 'Britannia have shown reckless abandon'Sir Richard Leese: 'Britannia have shown reckless abandon' 

 “The building’s owners have shown a reckless abandon in their management of what is an incredibly important, landmark property. Despite consistent public promises to develop the building, they have failed to make any tangible progress – and have therefore failed as guardians of this fine heritage building.

“This compulsory purchase order is an unerring commitment on behalf of the city council to bring life back in to London Road Fire Station – a property which Manchester people have waited long enough to see developed – and we will do everything we can to make this happen.”

The Council's pursuit of a second CPO has been met with 'cautious applause' by campaign group, The Friends of London Road Fire Station, who have lobbied tirelessly to see the historic building rid of Britannia but have often been left disappointed by a 'poor level of engagement' from the Council.

Emma Curtin, chair of the Friends, said: “The CPO is the move we have been hoping for. Manchester City Council were very generous to give Britannia one final month to start making good on its promise to begin restoration and redevelopment of the building.

"The fact Britannia failed to do so yet again, despite 28 years of opportunity, shows the time has come for positive action that any Government agency must support."

London Road Fire Station (image courtesy ofLondon Road Fire Station (image courtesy of londonroadfire.org)

The Friends secretary, Adam Prince, added: "It is more than time for Britannia to leave without any fuss, to not drag this out any longer by appealing the CPO. The Fire Station deserves a revival that meets inspirational community, public access and business needs.”

"It is time for Manchester City Council to engage with a talented pool of supportive citizens and allow them to be involved in the visions, needs and ambitions for LRFS."

Good news for campaigners then that should the Council be successful in securing ownership of London Road Fire Station, they intend to hold an 'open competition' to establish a scheme for the site.

All the meetings, agendas and minutes of Manchester City Council's Executive committee can be viewed here.

You can visit the Friends of London Road Fire Station campaign site at www.londonroadfire.org.

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

APDecember 17th 2014.

Exciting and really think Manchester Confidential will be really important and vital lead in gathering excitement around this competition for the city and possibilities for developers. We just beg MCC planning to not work in the usual isolationist manner, especially in this case where citizen engagement is key to winning a CPO. Really look forward to 2015, public events, interactive developers, exciting isions, ideas and just the needed unit to rid LRFS of the blight of Langsam and co.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
APDecember 17th 2014.

Experts advice (who MCC yet to contact despite the CADO report being mentioned and the requests for meetings ignored). A very simple process MCC MUST engage with. The legal needs require certainty, full financial commitment and public engagement. Best steps must be: ● Competition and visions involving public. ●Full structural surveys costs fully known ●Definite legal contracts unlike 2010. ●THEN Initiate CPO. ▪ Certainty required under current inadequate Heritage laws

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

'Exciting and really think Manchester Confidential will be really important and vital lead in gathering excitement around this competition...'That's if they're not too busy creating food reviews on Italian restaurants and regurgitating old pub crawls. I can imagine though that if ManCon did play a part in preserving the building, that on the opening night, we'd all see photos of Gordo stuffing his face with free food and booze whilst saying to us all "You're welcome."

CheesefaceDecember 17th 2014.

Anon, why are you even on this site if you find it's main purpose (food reviews) and its staff so disagreeable? Bloody weirdo.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

^ Did he say he 'disagreed' with anything? It read that he was taking the p***. Bloody weirdo.

DarrenDecember 17th 2014.

Brilliant news. Really hope this building is saved from what awaits it if Britannia get to keep it. And like so many have said on Twitter, the council need to listen to the people who are passionate about this building and it's future. We may have a chance, a once in a lifetime chance, to build something utterly remarkable and unique. A bog standard hotel/restaurant isn't going to cut it. And well done to all who have campaigned for this cause. I've followed the campaigns for LRFS, The Dispensary in Ancoats and Library Walk on Twitter and it's brilliant to see people prepared to fight for buildings they love.

rinkydinkDecember 17th 2014.

Really glad the council have taken this stance. This building deserves better

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

'Robert Ferrari, finally responded to the Council's threat of a CPO by stating that Britannia were 'happy to enter into a development agreement with the Council's cooperation'.' if they were 'happy' to enter into anything they'd have responded immediately. Or even better, got the building preserved and workng again. They sound a right bunch of dodgy types. Did the protest group ever stand outside the Brittania hotel and protest or get the fire service involved?

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

Britannia Hotels are a disgusting company. Truly dreadful hotels. The state they have allowed LRFS to get into is an absolute scandal.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

What is this building actually worth and what is it worth as a clear site?.Does anybody know this?.Secondly why is the council deciding its future use,why does it have to be a hotel?.Its not even the council own building but Leese not the people of Manchester has announced it will be a hotel,no doubt developed by one of its pet developers with the benefit of public money.Why not instead a Musuem or modern art gallery?

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

"Why not a museum or modern art gallery?" Who would you expect to set up and run such an institution? If any existing museum/gallery body wanted to or was in a position to refurb and operate the Fire Station as you suggest, they would doubtless come forward with a proposition to the council. Can you think of any? I suspect you are expecting the council to make a modern art gallery to appear by magic. This comment keeps coming up regarding empty building, but I never see you (and I suspect you're the same person suggesting it) talking about how it might happen in reality.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

No. Franchises could exist. Tate. British Museum. Art Collections. English Heritage could make a visitors/history centre in any scheme (if they actually are committed to anything). Then With Osbourne's recent investment into the city and the 90% London arts and culture bias in terms of funding that must be addressed, there could be ways to ensure parts become exhibitions. Even a hotelier could support private exhibitions in lobby's. Never say never.

Staff
David BlakeDecember 17th 2014.

This is what we know so far Anon: 'According to the report, should the Council acquire the building, the former fire depot could require between £6m to £9m in repairs. Though the Council hope that competition for the site between developers will incur 'no cost' to them (5.7).'

Peter JacobsDecember 17th 2014.

I would support it NOT being a hotel. And as for art galleries not coming forward, the building has not been on the market for 30 years and has been in the clutches of a 'hotel' chain. It's unlikely under those circumstances that Tate or the British Museum or whoever would be considering the building as potentially available. But let's get that on the agenda as soon as it can be wrestled from Britannia. A hotel seems depressingly reductive and obvious.

Ghostly TomDecember 17th 2014.

I have thought that it would make a great building to house the British Museum North. The courtyard covered with a magnificent roof like the one in the Great Court in the London branch would be magnificent. Could someone get the British Museum movers and shakers in the same room as Sheik Mansour and see what happens?

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Great idea GT, but as "Up & Going" Leese & Bernstein will ultimately decide this building's fate (if their CPO succeeds that is) - then a Greggs themed hotel is probably more likely. See below.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

A large Greggs and Greggs themed hotel would be great.

24 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Or maybe a Motel Two to match its new neighbour? Whatever, I'm sure Bernstein & Leese will come up with something "really imaginative" - as per effing usual???

GimboidDecember 17th 2014.

"Whatever, I'm sure Bernstein & Leese will come up with something "really imaginative" - as per effing usual???" Implying that you think it's Bernstein and Leese who design development proposals in Manchester? Good grief, some people are too stupid for words.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Gimboid - ManCon troll of the year 2014?

GimboidDecember 17th 2014.

I prefer to think of myself as a tedious pedant for logic and informed debate.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

you have not mentioned there favorite architect Gimboid

GimboidDecember 17th 2014.

That's very astute of you to notice, Anon. But irrelevant and pointless. Cheers.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Gimboid read the article you halfwit, Manchester City Council are attempting to compulsory purchase this site. That means they'll own it and no silly, Leese & Bernstein will not draw up the plans themselves, but they will ultimately decide "who will" redevelop/redesign the site you disingenuous twit. Just can't handle any criticism of your beloved council can you?

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

The Steak Bake suite.. I like it.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Gimboid always on to defend the council position,though claiming not to be a Labout supporter.

GimboidDecember 18th 2014.

How am I defending the council position?

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Gimboid is the voice of sanity as far as I'm concerned. Too many people seem to rant utterly stupid things without having the first clue what they're talking about. You need someone with some sense or knowledge participating in debate else the while thing becomes pointless.

GimboidDecember 18th 2014.

Thanks Mum

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

What, the guy who can't understand why Metrolink will be offering free wifi when trams don't have tables??? Gimboid also seems pretty clueless about the planning process here - unwilling to see the part played by MCC in setting development proposal parameters and their ultimate complicity in the buildings Manchester ends up with on sites they own or are attempting to own. In fact he adds nothing constructive to any thread debate, just childish insults at anybody who dares criticise his beloved council leaders.

GimboidDecember 18th 2014.

Oh, silly silly Anon. I understand extremely well the role of the council in bringing forward development proposals. Unfortunately for you, that's irrelevant to the comment I was replying to, which implied the Council leaders are personally and solely responsible for new developments, like our own twin Robert Moses. You see how those aren't the same thing? Do try a little bit harder to understand what the grown ups are saying before replying, you'll save making yourself look stupid. Cheers.

GimboidDecember 18th 2014.

And by the way, nice job on contradicting yourself, by referring to my post which clearly didn't insult anyone, and DID criticise a council-led initiative. Sweet moves, brainbox. Remember to keep breathing yeah?

AnonymousDecember 19th 2014.

Oh stop being so childish Gimboid, you silly boy. Gosh, you're so uptight aren't you? Now lets try this just one more time - if MCC own, or end up owning this property, yes they will be "ultimately responsible" for its redevelopment. That too hard for you? (Oh and yes, I do apologise for referring to your tables on trams comment, but it's such a "classic" I couldn't resist.)

GimboidDecember 19th 2014.

Let's try THIS one more time: MCC ≠ Richard Leese and Howard Bernstein. Do you need me to draw you a picture to explain how they are not the same thing, and how your comment is not relevant?

AnonymousDecember 19th 2014.

Hell, you really know nothing about local politics & governance do you Gimboid?

AnonymousDecember 19th 2014.

You appear to be another clueless ranter anon: "Now lets try this just one more time - if MCC own, or end up owning this property, yes they will be "ultimately responsible" for its redevelopment." - no they won't since MCC do not own, develop nor manage hotels. Any CPO would be contingent on a legal agreement being in place from a private developer to purchase and develop the property. It is they who would be ultimately responsible for it's redevelopmemt.

AnonymousDecember 20th 2014.

So lets get this right then. MCC are attempting to seize ownership of this site, but because they don’t actually build, manage hotels and will be contracting a private developer to carry out the works, daft Gimboid (and his mum?) thinks that MCC will not be responsible for the resulting redevelopment that we end up with there? They will be fully responsible Gimboid, you town hall patsy!

AnonymousDecember 20th 2014.

No they won't. Exactly how much of the CPO process do you actually understand anon? You can't just confiscate someone's asset then just sit on it - no judge would consent to such an Order. You need a viable plan in place; one which can demonstrate that the public benefits (ie the saving and bringing back into use of a listed building) outweigh the private loss and that the plan can actually be delivered. If a hotel is the only viable end use then it would be the private developer who will deliver the scheme who will be ultimately responsible for the building.

AnonymousDecember 20th 2014.

What on earth are you going on about now? Who said anything about MCC confiscating this asset, then not knowing their legal obligations and simply sitting on it? MCC know exactly what they want to see on this site - and they'll be choosing & sealing contracts with the hotel property developer they want to see that vision delivered. They are instigating this whole process and thus (if successful) they will take full responsibility for what Manchester ends up with here.

AnonymousDecember 21st 2014.

You seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that MCC will retain ownership of the site; or that as sponsor of the CPO they will have a big major on the finished scheme. They won't. The market will decide because the building will have to cover the considerable acquisition and developments costs and then operate as a successful business. MCC are not in the business of developing hotels and therefore won't have that sort of expertise in house. Surely that is not so difficult to grasp?

AnonymousDecember 21st 2014.

*will have a major influence

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

As long as the building is saved I'll be happy.

Kevin PeelDecember 17th 2014.

Absolutely the right thing for us to do as city centre councillors have long called for. We will continue to build public support for the CPO to send a strong message to Eric Pickles that he can't ignore the will of Manchester people a second time.

10 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

And here's Kevin to turn it into a bit of political point scoring. Quelle surprise.

DarrenDecember 17th 2014.

Agreed Kevin, but equally councillors need to understand that they can't keep ignoring the will of Manchester people time & time again, when it comes to new buildings and developments in the city. This can't be a run of the mill hotel/restaurant/bar. This building deserves more than that, and a lot of people will feel very let down if we get this building off Britannia only to fill it with generic chains and rubbish you find in every other city. Friends of London Rd Fire Station have some brilliant ideas from museums to botanical gardens.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Kev seeking validation again.

James KayDecember 17th 2014.

Ignoring the will of Manchester people? Library Walk, Sunday and evening parking charges etc. Comedy gold!

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

What Kevin means is the Conservative party ignoring the will of Manchester people. When the local Labour party do it, that's fine.

David SmithDecember 17th 2014.

All about the spin.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Joan and Kevin always along to tell us how much the council listens.Then promptly dissapear and avoid comment when Leese makes one his unpopular decisions.All which voted through council with the kind of unanimous vote Saddam Hussein would have been proud of.If such decision remains unpopular then Pat will be called on to for some public consultation,which gets issue conveniently kicked Ito the long grass.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Joan and Kevin always along to tell us how much the council listens.Then promptly dissapear and avoid comment when Leese makes one his unpopular decisions.All which voted through council with the kind of unanimous vote Saddam Hussein would have been proud of.If such decision remains unpopular then Pat will be called on to for some public consultation,which gets issue conveniently kicked Ito the long grass.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Joan and Kevin always along to tell us how much the council listens.Then promptly dissapear and avoid comment when Leese makes one his unpopular decisions.All which voted through council with the kind of unanimous vote Saddam Hussein would have been proud of.If such decision remains unpopular then Pat will be called on to for some public consultation,which gets issue conveniently kicked Ito the long grass.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Eric Pickles shouldn't ignore the people of Manchester but it's perfectly OK for Manchester City Council to do precisely that?

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

The council should declare 'no confidence' in their entire hotel chain, and shut them all down. Get rid of these parasites.

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

Sachas. How is that still in business? Dreadful.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

If the building is to be saved - and the general consensus seems to be that it would be scandalous if it were not - then given the huge repair costs I think the reality is that it will most likely only work commercially as a hotel. I might be wrong, but I can't honestly see other options generating sufficient return for the massive investment now required. But I think it could be a really great iconic Manchester hotel. And given its strategic position (HS2 and all that) the required amounts of cash needed to repair the fabric of the building and give it a new life might well be forthcoming.

7 Responses: Reply To This...
DarrenDecember 17th 2014.

It's such a huge building, a huge amount of space. It could be so many things. It could really be awe inspiring and an iconic building for Manchester, or it could be a hotel. I wouldn't be against a small part of it being an upmarket boutique type hotel, but we can't waste the opportunity we may have with this building. We have to be imaginative and creative.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

We also need to have the money for it, and a willing developer. It's all well and good coming up with ideas of what it could be, but the reality is that it is going to cost a significant amount of money just to purchase and repair it, let alone redevelop it. A dose of pragmatism is needed here.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

How much money did the council find for Home or redevelopment Town Hall?.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Amen. HOME Horror would have been perfect for LRFS if Council weren't so insular, stupid and incompetent

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

The dividend from the airport alone would pay a significant part of cost to save building.Then there is the lottery and E U and private donations.And maybe help from Osbourne if still chanvellor.Also London institution now are under pressure to expand outside,with perception that to much money is going there.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Leese has decided it's a hotel,and without any of the council prepared to challenge him,he gets what he wants.Since when did we vote to have a dictator run this city ?

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

For a CPO to be successful, amongst other things you need to demonstrate a viable end use. Otherwise I could just come along and CPO your house with some vague promise or a whimsical idea that I deem to be a good idea. Obviously there is legislation in place to ensure that someone's private property can only be removed from them in certain circumstances. The council could not just CPO something with the hope that the British museum would agree to establishing a base at some unknown point in the future. Nor could they CPO something for a hotel user unless they had a developer signed up, who in turn, would have to be convinced that it would be a profitable venture. This makes setting aside part of the building for public use extremely risky as it is a part of the building that would not make money, hence contribute to the considerable development and on going maintenance costs. So you see it is all much more complex than you seem to think.

MarkDecember 17th 2014.

The owners can't even look after their own teeth (fact), or their working hotels, let alone a beautiful building they have "owned" for 28 years. The perfect example of the need for a CPO if ever I saw one. Hurry up and take it from them before the building (like their teeth) falls in.

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

Can you provide some evidence of the state of their teeth (web link for example) please or your comments are just hearsay.

JimtoDecember 19th 2014.

Hans, have you not seen Britannia, or Sachas, or the state of the fire station?

Poster BoyDecember 17th 2014.

The elephant in the Committee Report is that it cannot prove the financial case for redevelopment. If the redevelopment is not viable (as the owner contends) it is wrong that it should be forced into CPO, for the City Council to reap the financial benefit. If the City Council (or for that matter the many 'Friends' (sic)) believes so strongly in the business case it should have the courage of its conviction and make an offer to the owner to purchase the property by private treaty. Every property asset has a price. If the City Council does not believe it is a price worth paying, there lies the answer to an understandable, but hardly unique frustration. The bullying of Britannia, and all the emotive and idealist bullshit that comes with it, should then stop.

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

If there is a concern about the business case that is surely in large part to do with the additional costs involved in refurbishing a listed building, costs which have no doubt escalated considerably owing to Brittania's manifest neglect. There are surely heritage grants available to offset such costs for an owner interested in bringing forward its development - see Gorton Monastery as an example. There is also the matter of the considerable public interest in rescuing a listed building from further decay and potential loss. Given the public / community value that listed status confers onto a building it is entirely legitimate to use public money to save such buildings from negligent owners. It is therefore ludicrous to suggest that Brittania are in anyway being "bullied".

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Of course the current owner will claim it is not viable. Doesn't mean that that is the case. And how on earth do you work out that the council will benefit financially given they would not be developing or operating the subsequent hotel?

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Of course the current owner will claim it is not viable. Doesn't mean that that is the case. And how on earth do you work out that the council will benefit financially given they would not be developing or operating the subsequent hotel?

Friends of Angel MeadowDecember 17th 2014.

Great effort by the Save LRFS team! Heritage battles continue to be waged in the city. Help STOP HISTORICAL AIRBRUSHING OF ANGEL MEADOW HISTORY www.friends-of-angel-meadow.org/page31.htm…. Current proposal will ignore existing design and see new entrance re-imagined as pastiche of an elegant Victorian Park or Upper Class graveyard, in contradiction of the important (if difficult) social history revealed by our members (among others). It denigrates those working in the city to improve, promote and defend our communities from those who will never live in it. The design will create disabled access barriers and fails to implement Democratically-endorsed Planning Conditions (outstanding since 2011) to protect residents from the impact of the new NOMA ring road. More pertinently, it wastes significant amounts of public money (AGAIN) on unnecessary architectural folly which adds future maintenance costs (and demands on FOAM and the taxpayer), whilst having no strategy to complete one of the few green spaces in the city after 15 years. PLEASE SUPPORT!

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

Big respect. Hope different groups can unite into a non political civic group that shares knowledge, support, inspiration and has a voting democratic structure that MCC will need to recognise rather than isolationist planning without effective engagement strategies. To the fighters! X

APDecember 17th 2014.

This is an evil response but as expected. Four planning permissions all granted and ready to go. The last planning inspectorate questioned how there was absolutely no maintenance whatsoever Thanks in twenty years. Now 29 years on this case can be won but only if MAC work with citizens, do the competition, then fully survey the building and ensuring fully legally binding contract before official CPO. They must work with public as only have one chance. The legal team is paid to ensure Britain in can win games to not develop, to destroy the fabric of the building giving them either the whole land area to sell or a cheap redevelopment. We all have to stand together because no company, however wily and immoral should ever get away with this. So the poisonous games continue.... Thanks David, Jonathan and team. You have covered this story way before we existed and hope you will lead and help us be a part of big public support events, vision and research groups that can win this with public support. Of course Britain in are invited!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Adam PrinceDecember 17th 2014.

(Forgive any typos. Typing on foot in rain)!

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

There would be no point in spending all that money just to turn this into a gallery or museum that nobody will use. A hotel is the only viable option.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
Nick NameDecember 17th 2014.

You are wrong. 100% wrong. And I hope in time you are proved wrong. Just a hotel would be a massive let down.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

It will be a hotel, who on earth would pay for it to be anything else?

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Quite. There are some really naive and fanciful ideas being thrown around by people who clearly know nothing about how expensive listed buildings are to refurbish, about property development, nor about running a profitable business. All these wild ideas about museums, community centres etc simply don't stack up and wouldn't pay for the purchase nor upkeep of the building.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

Maybe you not noticed that the huge concentration of museums of international standard is one of reasons London has more tourists,and if they are so such a bad idea why is Abu Dhabi spending hundreds of millions opening a branch of the Louvre.I really don't think a hotel is going to attract additional visitor to the city in comparison.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

A huge percentage of a hotel model. Fine. But big enough for public access options and franchises. This all or nothing debate is bogus, when tourism could be stimulated within a hotel building with multi uses.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

So the British Museum isn't a viable economic entity is it? The various Tate galleries aren't viable attracting people in droves to their various locations and stimulating investment in their respective areas? This building, turned into a world class museum would do exactly that for this area. A far better idea for the building than a third rate hotel.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Did Manchester in Victorian times think museums and galleries a bad thing?.No they thought it was essential component of being a great city.Great cities are not just business centres they are also centres of culture and learning.At this moment Manchester is lacking in major museums and galleries.We cannot compare even to Liverpool or Leeds when it comes to arts museums for instance.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomDecember 18th 2014.

Cities with great cultural offerings attract companies who want to set up there. Having great museums and galleries helps grow a city's economy. Manchester Art gallery is very good but comes as a surprise to people who find it. We need to market the city's cultural legacy and attract other institutions to the city. Where to put one? The London Road Fire Station springs to mind...

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

What about housing Frank Cohen vast modern art collection in a ares Musuem there.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Have to admit I've never heard of the gentleman and his collection. Would be interested to know more.

Shy Bald BuddhistDecember 18th 2014.

The people on here who want this just to be a hotel are so short sighted it's unbelievable. We can have a number of high profile profitable unique things in one building that will pull people in from far and wide. Like some have already said the arts in London get so much more in investment, last time I checked I think it was 15 times more per head than we get. We need to have a bit more ambition and belief. I'll be very disappointed with whoever gives the go ahead for this to be turned into a hotel.

18 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

I think you need to establish the difference between people 'wanting' it to be a hotel, and people being realistic about what is commercially viable on this site. The council cannot put a CPO in on the vague notion of a museum or gallery, because it will be rejected again.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

I don't understand why people are demanding it be turned into a gallery. Surely the crucial point is that it is saved? What the building is eventually used for is not really our business.

Shy Bald BuddhistDecember 18th 2014.

It feels like a massive waste of time and effort to try and explain it any further. I'm happy the Friends of London Rd Fire Station have the vision and ambition a lot of people on here have, and they fully understand what the council needs to do, and didn't do the last time the CPO failed.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Having vision and ambition is fine, but you also need a credible plan for the development. Unless there is one for the site, the CPO will fail again, no matter how much vision and ambition they have.

EdwardDecember 18th 2014.

You can't just create a gallery / museum to order. It can take decades to build up collections. You are a fool for thinking it is so simple.

Shy Bald BuddhistDecember 18th 2014.

Anon, that is what FOLRFS have repeatedly asked for. And have been repeatedly ignored it seems. No one said it was easy and no one said it had to be a gallery. What is being said is lets not give all of this building to a hotel, lets have ideas put forward for other things. Things we don't have or want. I'm all for part of this being an upmarket/boutique hotel but it needs to be so much more than that.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

I'm sure the Friends have asked for a credible plan - however that doesn't mean that one exists for the things that they want. MCC need to have something concrete in place before the CPO goes in, not vague notions of what the building might be used for. As Hans has pointed out above, you can't just create a gallery or museum to order.

APDecember 18th 2014.

We are writing press releases and on our Expert Advisor's from Locality/ CADO/ Jericho Road and Evocti will be hand delivering letters to all of the Executive Committee today, and will special deliver to leaders. An open competition needs to encourage developers to bid and before any CPO is officially initiated, that legal certainty will be declared, contracted (unlike Argent in 2010). The competition is exciting and Angela Brady the ex President of RIBA has been supportive. We can imagine if there is a good competition process for a good period, this can lead to essential public engagement and the best vision. In the meantime Britannia MUST allow full structural survey's to be done, or we can say to any Planning Inspectorate certainty was actively blocked by Britannia, through them not allowing surveys and the known figure of the true damage since their ownership, hence undermining any true contractual agreement. It is a horrible game of chess. We hope MCC will heed the experts advise and work with us and the public for a true competition and seeking certainty, before the CPO officially goes to the Planning Inspectorate. If they do not, they risk under poor Heritage laws, failing in their case. This is the LAST CHANCE. It must be won.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

I cannot believe someone says it's not our business what the building is turned into.Whose bloody city is it?.The people of Manchester or Leese and his cronies in the Labour council?.This man was not directly elected but exercises all the power,with no accountability.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Manchester has one most significant collectors of modern art, in Frank Cohen.Who has complained about the cities disinterest in finding a permanent home collection.Since the likes of Pat Karney,even though university education prefer to ignore all high brow culture as if it's not for working class.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Frank Cohen has a vast collection modern art,so there is a collection to go here.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

But would the council want arts and culture here or the printworks mrk 2? Any chance ManCon can try and make contact with Mr Cohen for his view on using this building for art?

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

You seem to be missing one fundamental point SBB, namely that hotels MAKE money but museums, galleries and community centres COST money. Who on earth is going to stump up the cost to buy the building then subsidise the costs of the museum, running costs, insurance, maintenance etc. An even more fundamental point is what would you put in it? Do you know any collections begging for a home?

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

The friends of group are well meaning and have done well to keep the issue in the public eye but seem to be a little naive in the ways of the world. The previous CPO did not fail because the proposed end use did not demonstrate "public interest". Public interest here is saving a listed building from further damage or loss. The previous CPO failed because the inspector believed that Brittania were best placed to deliver the redevelopment. The end use is largely irrelevant in this context.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

The people involved in FOLRFS have spoken to a number of experts and got legal advice from what I've read. They are passionate about this building and have made themselves very knowledgeable on what needs to be done for the CPO to work this time. They know more on the subject than you. They are not naive at all.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

FLORFS are an excellent campaigning group. Experts in CPO or property development they are not.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

@hans...the basements of all the worlds galleries and museums are stuffed with art and artefacts that rarely see the light of day. Is it beyond the wit of someone to bring some out of the basements and put them on public view?

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Fine but 'they' need to be committed to doing so, as well as find the renovation, running costs, maintenance, insurance etc.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Its all about money, as usual. If the LRFS is to be saved and renovated as a structure (and it should be) it will cost an enormous amount of money. There needs to be a commercial business case to justify expenditure on the scale required (and to support the CPO). Realistically only conversion into a landmark hotel (plus perhaps some additional facilities) is likely to provide the revenue streams (over many years) which will justify this level of investment. I note the plans for Theatre Royal announced today by Radisson Edwardian - hotel/convention centre. This will be the reality for the LRFS. Not to everyone's taste I accept, but at least the building will not be lost.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

This is the Manchester Labour Party stated idea of 'reality'.Sorry but this is nonsense.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Of course it's not nonsense don't be so naive anon. This is the real world and as we know money makes the world go round.

DarrenDecember 18th 2014.

How did London get £90M for a garden on a bridge? If there's no money available to save this amazing building then there is something seriously wrong.

9 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Manchester council have a poverty of aspiration.This is not bloody Sheffield or Derby,this is the first industrial City in the world and the second most important City in England.We deserve better than the small time thinking.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Because it is London.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Have northern MPs never thought of voting as a block to change that?,or are most of them more interested in the value of their second home in London rather than their constituents.Kaufman?

DarrenDecember 18th 2014.

Correct 1st Anon. I read a comment from someone on here saying Manchester shouldn't have an underground system because drunks would spoil it! WTF!

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

That daft garden bridge was the brainchild of Joanna Lumley. I don't see agitating for plonk some museum in the fire station. Perhaps you could give it a go Daz?

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Yeah, fair point Darren. Because one person on this website making a silly comment demonstrates that the entire city of Manchester has a poverty of aspiration. WTF!

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

There's plenty of people on here who have it, never said the whole of Manchester has it. I was just pointing one comment out.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

And there are a lot of people who have completely unrealistic ideas about what it is possible for MCC to achieve. I'm all for criticising them for things they deserve it for (Piccadilly Gardens, Library Walk, litter, etc) but criticising them for not achieving some of the pie-in-the-sky ideas that get chucked about is just pointless.

AnonymousDecember 19th 2014.

There is of course a bridge and a proposal to have a park on it... now where is the kind persons who will fund it.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

It is the "poverty of reality" created by Leese & Bernstein- which creates more and more of a cheap identikit city whilst having no strategy to defend its heritage; to finish what it started nor demand quality control of the short term investment model they prostrate themselves before. They've overseen too much single generation tat in unsustainable materials as "safety deposit boxes" in the sky for financiers and other wealthy parasites who'll never live here. Manchester (and the Labour Party) needs to petition for a National Land Value Tax to ensure economic stagnation and heritage decay can never be lucrative for the absentee owners who blight the city through neglect, and we can actually build a city which future generations will be proud of.

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

Fair point re letting too many poor buildings through planning in conservation zones but the point about forcing developers to finish half completed plans within a timescale that suits you is unrealistic. How on earth do you propose to force private developers to do that?

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

How much bloody longer is this man Leese going to run Manchester.1997-?.Perhaps then we can have someone with vision not a small town Labour Party man only interested in development at any price.The leadership of this city has let property developers be the drivers of the way city looks.In the last 20 years what has Leese actuslly ever proposed himself,what has been HIS vision of the future of the city?.The man acts like a monarch rather than a leader.

AnonymousDecember 30th 2014.

when is enough enough Britannia hotels are a complete disgrace they can't look after what they have got

AnonymousDecember 30th 2014.

Britannia hotels have had this building long enough not a thing done for me they haven't got the money. just look a what raddison is doing with the old cinema next door. the council have got to get it back and get some one to develop it. what a building

MichaelMarch 6th 2015.

LRFS is as much a work of art as it is a piece of architecture. The level of craftsmanship involved is unique to its time and may never be repeated. I hope it stays and the money is found to restore it.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

What's happening with this?

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