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London Road Fire Station: 'They Have One Last Chance'

Sir Richard Leese delivers ultimatum to Britannia hotel group over neglected landmark

Written by . Published on September 30th 2014.


London Road Fire Station: 'They Have One Last Chance'
 

COUNCIL leader, Sir Richard Leese, has warned the Britannia hotel group that they have 'one last chance' after years of neglecting the landmark London Road Fire Station by Piccadilly Station, which has lain empty for the best part of 30 years.

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

The Council may move to seek a new Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) from Britannia Centres Limited (BCL) unless it receives confirmation within six weeks that the hotel group will enter a legally-binding agreement to begin work on the Grade II-listed structure, completed in 1906.

The Council did attempt to secure a CPO back in 2010, but this was rejected in Novermber 2011 by the goverment after BCL made promises to develop the building soon after.

Britannia reneged on their commitments and London Road Fire Station's continued deterioration remains 'the greatest disgrace in Manchester property for almost thirty years'.

For some context read our stories herehere and here.

London Road Fire Station as it wasLondon Road Fire Station as it was

Members of Manchester City Council’s Executivethe main decision making body of the Council, will be asked to agree to these next steps:

- That the Council states its intention to take steps towards making a new Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for London Road Fire Station unless it receives written confirmation within six weeks from BCL that it will enter into a legally-binding implementation agreement to act on its existing planning permission for the building.

- That the Council offers to work with the owners to ensure the necessary structural services surveys are carried out as soon as possible, and offers to share the costs of such work.

- It will also be asked to note that the Council has a clear view of how the building should be re-used – as a hotel - creating employment and safeguarding this architectural gem. At the same time this would improve the appearance of the area and help attract further investment -  especially in helping the area to maximise the opportunities which will be created through the arrival of HS2. 

London Road Fire StationLondon Road Fire Station

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “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.

“We are giving them one last chance but they need to act quickly to take it. 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.”

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

Alex24September 30th 2014.

Restoring a Grade 2 listed structure to the requisite standard for commercial use clearly doesn't fit into Britannia's cynical business model - see their premises on Portland Street and Sachas which frankly don't belong in the 21st Century. If this is a true ultimatum, then a CPO should be inevitable. I fully expect the council to act now and if they do, immense credit should go to those who have tirelessly campaigned for years on end when it looked futile. It's a stunning building and a quality hotel operator will make a lot of money from it whilst bringing it back to its former glory :D

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

Thanks Alex. My friends have been involved since the beginning of campaign and have been great events. We played for one of their music events. Councillors rarely if ever came along. Signing the original petition is still worth it as always campaigned for new compulsory purchase order. It's important this is done in public now and is what they've always fought for. www.ipetitions.com/…/manchesters-london-road-fire-station-standing-up…

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Just walked by it. Would be great to see lights on one night soon. It only will be used if we kick them out. Signing anything going around new or old to give them the boot.

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

Turn it into a hotel? Jeezzz! Of all the things it could be in the city. I think it would make a great arts venue or even a combined homeless shelter/immigrant advice centre/LGBT advice centre/multicultural awareness centre/social care and support centre/race relations advice centre and indoor skateboard park, and all funded by our Labour council. Can there be a Cafe Nero, Starbucks and Costa on each of the three corners please?

11 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

Hopefully Hotel Planning permission can mean quick way to challenge, but doesn't stop other developers or ideas coming forward. This time MCC needs to make the dialogue that was lacking last time and bring something great to the city. I think and hope it is a legal move, to ease the CPO process and get Britannia out.

Alex24September 30th 2014.

I can't tell if this is this is a p***take or not. Alternatives to a high-class hotel would be nice but nothing you suggest sounds commercially viable.

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

I didn't know the council did commercially viable? They do seem very good at not consulting with the people they represent though.

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

I am sure commercially viable doesn't begin and end at a Hotel. After the Scottish vote and the promises of better investment into Northern Cities many great models could be tried, like a British Museum North, Tate Manchester, museums, retail, small hotels, mixed use premises, indoor courtyard garden. Literally an A-Z of potential here and if gets more exposure more can happen. There has been interest from President of RIBA, developers expressing interests and so I believe a Hotel is not the only choice. A smaller hotel perhaps, but mixed use public access is important and symbolic after such a long period of arrested development.

rinkydinkSeptember 30th 2014.

Erm, a hotel will be fine thank you very much

GaloshesSeptember 30th 2014.

Anon #1, as a lefty liberal Guardian-reading type who cares deeply about homelessness and social inclusion, I have to say that sounds like an extremely tedious and wasteful concept for the building.

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

But what about the Roma people, Galoshes?

GimboidSeptember 30th 2014.

Sadly, we're probably at the worst time in decades, politically and economically, for there to be a decent prospect of anything public-minded or publicly-funded to happen with major heritage assets. Does anyone have any ideas where the money might come from?

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

Anyone thought of contacting the fire brigades around the world? they must have charities etc. Let's write up a help package and see what happens?

GimboidSeptember 30th 2014.

Good idea. DO IT.

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

I like that idea. Speaking to Councillors today. Many desires to see as having public access and something great even if part hotel. Guess all parties bed to be contacting developers, organisations and businesses to allure people to the most exciting prospects. It is so symbolic as a building for Manchester. Like a phoenix to be reborn from the dirt.

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

Excellent news. The petition now has over 4000 signatures I see and think their persistence has helped by keeping in the arena. Just hope more than an other hotel model and we get some choice with several developers competing for it.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Thanks, yes still chasing signatures. The Chair of LRFS did a great speech in the chambers yesterday encouraging public involvement and transparency. The video url should be up soon. For those interested, our survey has 195 respondents so far and if not done, takes ten minutes. Not a perfect survey by any means but is asking for public opinions and visions and an attempt no-one else has made. It did cause some controversy as asks for critical feedback on all parties involved. www.surveymonkey.com/…/XK5999B…

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

If this is successful they need to go after the Theatre Royal next, that looks even worse!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

The Theatre Royal would make a great car park for guests of the Midland Hotel. Maybe put an awful avant garde rusting, communist looking monument commemorating the Peterloo Massacre at the Free Trade end.

rinkydinkSeptember 30th 2014.

I thought that Radisson had bought this building to integrate into their hotel next door?

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

They have Rinky

David LarenteSeptember 30th 2014.

It's important that the council act now,to enable this Building to be brought back to its former glory, to many years have already been lost

Poster BoySeptember 30th 2014.

The solution is obvious. Bernstein + Giggs + Neville + Simpson = Hotel. That's how development happens in Manchester isn't it...?

1 Response: Reply To This...
ClockSeptember 30th 2014.

Sorry, how many developments have Giggs and Neville been involved with so far?

Poster BoySeptember 30th 2014.

The irony is not lost in Mr Leese's announcement coinciding with the City Council's report on it's own neglect of the Grade 1 listed Town Hall, "...continuing without addressing the backlog of issues would ultimately lead to the building becoming unusable, resulting in the extensive replacement works, redundancy and even potentially disposal." And let's not mention Heaton Hall...

7 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

Come on now! The council have spent £800 to replace each street bin recently.

Poster BoySeptember 30th 2014.

or Wythenshawe Hall.

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

or Stuart Hall.

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

or Daisy Mill which they want to obliterate.

MC Hammer's best joggersSeptember 30th 2014.

or Toad Hall

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

Kill 'em 'all.

Kevin PeelSeptember 30th 2014.

We would encourage all residents to sign our petition in support of the new bid to show the strength of feeling for this issue. citycentrelabour.org.uk/…/…

5 Responses: Reply To This...
Botox BollocksSeptember 30th 2014.

Good job taking a lead on this Kev. I bet a certain campaigner's head is exploding in indignant apoplexy right now.

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

Other than self-indulgence, what is Manchester labour good for?

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

No not really Botox. We apologised for mutual offence and have moved on. Sign any petition, any support helps.

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

Predictable self indulgence. Peel to portray himself as the main 'hero' centre stage. The crowd yawns disbelieving.

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

We all say sign anything. I think the Friends we set up have done really well even if controversial. We've been very persistent, had a lot of successful events, lot's of media to keep the issue live. The reason we are so outspoken at times is because there have been some really bad decisions have been made to demolish buildings that were functional e.g. Legends/Twisted Wheel just over the road and were important to people. This is despite some support from the local Councillor's unnecessary decisions were made. We are still seeking real and open dialogue, public transparency and architectural involvement in decisions. We hope for public meetings and multiple planning permissions competing for the best outcomes. This can be and should be open to all and independent to party politics though to unite and get these should be criminals out once and for all should be everyone's priority as Manchester is in it together. The only real enemy, Britannia Hotels. I'm sure they'll appeal any CPO and make as difficult as possible, but hope I am wrong. They just need to go.

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

I'd prefer it to be knocked down and something new built. It's a fine looking building, but old fashioned and not of any real importance. I don't consider it an 'gem'. Given its location I think something modern could improve this bleak and relatively remote corner of the city centre.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

Haha nice try

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

Hi Alex Langsam. I've a better idea. SLING YOUR HOOK! Don't let your decaying empire hit you on the way out. Good luck for being nominated for Which? Worst Hotel chain 2014 & 2015.

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Are you sure that isn't David Roscoe?....

AVOOctober 1st 2014.

Council buys the property at a below market rate under a CPO then sells to flashy development company at a vast profit. Everyone's a winner.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Botox BollocksOctober 1st 2014.

In that scenario it sounds to me like the only losers would be Britannia. So yeah, everyone that deserves to would be a winner - or at least gain some benefit.

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

The council needs to get money for follies from somewhere.

AVOOctober 1st 2014.

Personally, I believe that the Britannia group deserve to face some kind of financial penalty to reflect their laissez faire attitude to the whole situation. They bought the property knowing it needed major spending to bring it up to scratch. It was clear from the start that the property would never fit into the Britannia group's portfolio given that the majority of their hotels are dilapidated and of a low standard. If they can't or won't invest in their existing portfolio of properties what makes you think they were ever going to invest in the fire station.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

I'd love to see the law change and see them criminally prosecuted. Stealing heritage for thirty years whilst putting it at risk should be criminal.

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

I once saw a thief running down the street with a large bag of heritage and the police did nothing.

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

Please do not let Britannia start work on this building, they would ruin it for ever. They are only capable of running cheap dumps of hotels whose appearance blights the city centre landscape. A building of this calibre needs to be treated with sensitivity and respect by any potential developers, something Britannia are incapable of.

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

How much of a difference would it make to people's lives if this building was flattened?

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

Would you say that about the town hall, central library and the cathedral?

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

Because it would show should be corporate criminals win. If I went and vandalised a wall I would be arrested. If you cause £5m - £15m long term damage on a Heritage Asset over thirty years - there somehow is no crime.

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

The Town Hall, Central Library and Cathedral are all in use so different scenario.

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

The question you should be asking Anon 1 is how much of a difference would it make to peoples lives if this building was restored & put to use.

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

What if it was replaced with a new building that met modern requirements?

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

"Opportunities created by the arrival of HS2"? What, you mean the destruction it's going to cause for urban wildlife all over central Manchester? It's headed right through West Gorton and the planned path takes it dead-centre through a well-known habitat of urban foxes, along with the many homes that are to be demolished because of it - for what? 30 minutes' improvement on what's already only a 2-hour train journey from Manchester to London? I haven't met a local YET who wants HS2 to happen!

9 Responses: Reply To This...
Botox BollocksOctober 1st 2014.

What complete nonsense. The new track will be underground until it reaches Gorton, where it will run alongside the existing viaduct along the EDGE of Gorton, mostly through what is now industrial land. The way you talk makes it sound like it's going through the centre of a nature reserve. I'm sure the urban foxes will cope.

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Exactly. You'd think 2.5 hours was fast enough wouldn't you? The only people that will benefit are the owners and share holders of the companies that will build it.

Botox BollocksOctober 2nd 2014.

It's not really about the speed increase, even though that's the way it's been sold to the public. It's about increasing capacity for growing demand. The speed is a side benefit.

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Capacity? Here we go again! Currently every train on Virgin Rail isn't full and even less so off-peak and weekends. Where's this future Manchester to London demand coming from?

Botox BollocksOctober 2nd 2014.

Evidence of that please? In any case, HS2 isn't designed to deal with current demand, it's designed to meet demand 20+ years from now. Demand has been growing consistently for years and shows now signs of dropping.

Botox BollocksOctober 2nd 2014.

*no signs of dropping

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

I have actually been on several journeys between London and Manchester where I have stood for most of the journey, we definitely need to increase capacity.

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

More trains?

Botox BollocksOctober 2nd 2014.

Yes, more trains, but you also need something to put the trains ON, Anonymous. The existing infrastructure has limited capacity which cannot cope with ever-increasing demand.

Geoffrey EntwistleOctober 1st 2014.

I understand that the previous CPO attempt failed because the Council failed to satisfy two basic requirements: that there should be a plan and that the plan should be in the public interest. Has something changed, otherwise the Council will be left with another embarrassing high legal bill.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Thanks Geoffrey. Please see the expert we are dealing with as Friends got LRFS accepted as 1/10 National Buildings used to change the law. Stan Edwards is an expert in CPO's and an Honorary Member of their association. Locality are advising us. Much went wrong in last CPO which can be summarised as lack of public involvement, lack of public choice, non legally binding contracts and a developer with no experience of working with listed Heritage. Of-course Pickles was big part of bias. This time we are lobbying for architectural participation, increase public interest research, competing planning applications and the best outcomes. See why the last CPO failed here. www.mediafire.com/…/IRRV_Valuer_Journal_May_2013_-_CPOs_Listed_Buildings.pdf…

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

For as long as the proprietors of Britania Hotels can avoid spending money they will. This is nothing new for them. Their ethos is one of make as much money as possible with as little expense as possible.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Let's hope they avoid appealing then and have the decency to go when CPO'd in 6 weeks. Really, really hope for that just so this can be over.

BabsicaOctober 1st 2014.

This beautiful building needs to be put to good use and not allowed to fall inti disrepair.

Ed CaseOctober 2nd 2014.

Britannia Hotels? Britannia Hostels - and incredibly poor ones at that - would be more appropriate. The Fire Station could be a superb advert for rail visitors to the city to get a feel for the place - if developed sympathetically. While it remains in the possession of those who don't care a jot for the development of Manchester, it will stay a blot on the landscape. Fortunately, Eric Porkles will be out of a job in the next eight months, leaving Alex Langsam and his cohorts without a government ally.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidOctober 2nd 2014.

It's funny how socialists seem to want to make comments about Brittania hotels,like the class obsessed social snobs they are.Wrong type of hotel for the wrong type of people seems to be the message. Also you can tell which side of Mancester they come from and they always refer to it as first entry to the city.They never express the same concern about buildings near Victoria It's very unlikely Eric a Pickles will be out of a job,given the desperately bad conference speech of Ed Milliband.Also why don't you socialist address the Labour council neglect of building? Also Mr Vaughan you seem to have a great interest in this considering you claim to be Scottish and would not admit to living in this country,when making your comments about Scottish Independence.Why are you concerned about English politics,it's not your country,as you were so keen to point out before.

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Zzzzzzzzzzz

GimboidOctober 2nd 2014.

DON'T EVER LEAVE ME DAVID.

JoanOctober 2nd 2014.

David: have a look at tweets from Greg Hands, unfortunate enough to stay in Birmingham's Britannia Hotel earlier this week. He was certainly unimpressed. Who is Greg Hands you might ask, another socialist conforming to Your theory? Actually, no. He's a Tory MP.

DavidOctober 3rd 2014.

My impression Joan is that Manchester lacks cheap hotels.There is a role for cheap,even somewhat nasty hotels.When Even a shared bunk in a hostel is £20 plus in Manchester,or the Premier Inn can be £100 plus,these are prices beyond the reach of many people,especially the young. Secondly I not exactly a fan of Tory MPs,as they are just as pro the Home Counties as Labour are pro London.

Ed CaseOctober 2nd 2014.

Oh, David... you are sooooo predictable. Funny though - well done, you've brightened my day! I live south of the city - when I'm in Manchester - and vote in Manchester, FYI. Because I am not a native Mancunian, are you suggesting I shouldn't vote? Did Magna Carta die in vain? (Thank you, Tony Hancock.) You know your rag-bag coalition (unless you are a mad 'kipper) will be out on its collective a*se in May - unless they opt to go early, which is not totally out of the question. In fact, I may even go 'on the knocker' to ensure Withington's John Leech is one of the first to visit the local Job Centre (or whatever the current name for the dole is called) after the general election. I do have to say that the only poster on here obsessed with class - though I'm surprised you can spell it - is you. But crack on; work hard and, perhaps one day, you'll be able to get your partner a blue rinse and a caravan. Anyway, I have to dash, I have staff to subjugate... Cheerie-bye, for now. xxx

1 Response: Reply To This...
DavidOctober 2nd 2014.

Why are you concerned politics of a country you desperately wanted to leave and denounced repeatedly?Tony Hancock..you must be cracking on a bit,don't leave returning to Scotland until it's too late.When England gets it chance of home rule and rid of Scotland,you can be repatriated toyour dreary,miserable homeland.

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of this....does anyone know how much was paid for this site when the current owners bought it 30 years ago and what the expected commercial value would be now on an undeveloped site? Wouldn't surprise me if they've more on their investment by doing nothing than they would have done by developing it.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

Only rumours of a very low price from people in the Fire Service. We'd love to find out more about this but not sure who we would ask. We've asked people for advice and people are equally stumped. An FOI may not go back that far.

Ed CaseOctober 2nd 2014.

Never let the facts get in the way of good story, David. My posts on Scottish independence are clear for all to see - and make a judgement call on - but that was yesterday (sic) and I'd rather deal with today and tomorrow. As for knowing about Tony Hancock: yes, perhaps I am 'cracking on a bit', but his glum humour transcends time so why not try it? He often came across a sad, bitter, little bigot too - I believe you'd enjoy it. Your comments on my - and I'll correct your punctuation as you were obviously in a tizzy when you posted - 'dreary, miserable homeland'... well, I've hard of bad losers - but bad winners are a fairly new one to me. Were you in George Square, Glasgow, celebrating by beating up 'Yes' supporters the day after the referendum? I only ask as the attackers appeared to vent their spleen on the old, women and the defenceless... or wouldn't mummy let you go that far north? Just asking. ;-)

1 Response: Reply To This...
DavidOctober 2nd 2014.

Why would I be celebrating,the sooner England is free from Scotland the better.The people causing trouble were not English either,they were your lovely fellow countrymen,like the ones who were totally pissed and caused so much damage,after the football final in Manchester.

Ed CaseOctober 2nd 2014.

Dearie-me, so much bile and bitterness from one so young. Did a naughty Scotsman run off with your girl/boy friend? Get over it and move on - he did! xxx

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