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Sir Howard Bernstein's Open Letter On Fire Station

MCC Chief Executive writes to Alex Langsam owner of Britannia Hotels

Written by . Published on January 12th 2012.

Sir Howard Bernstein's Open Letter On Fire Station

THE protracted battle over the stalled redevelopment of London Road Fire Station has been covered extensively by Confidential culminating in this article.

That concerned a complusory purchase order being refused, and a victory of sorts for Alex Langsam, the boss of Britannia Hotels, the company that owns London Road Fire Station.

The latest salvo comes in the form of a open letter to Langsam from Sir Howard Bernstein; for those who've been following the case, it makes for interesting reading. It's polite, almost helpful and concerned, but clearly aimed to make sure that work on the historic building begins sooner rather than later. 

Here it is, dated 19/12/2011 and reproduced in full:

Dear Mr Langsam 

London Road Fire Station 

The publication of the Inquiry Inspector's Report following the CPO Inquiry underlines the importance of both of us to work constructively to ensure the re-development of this important building is brought forward as soon as possible. I am therefore writing to confirm my commitment and that of the City Council to this end, and to propose that we meet early in the New Year with our colleagues to discuss arrangements for achieving this objective. 

I would propose that at this first meeting we discuss the following issues; 

1. The discharge of planning conditions; at the Inquiry it was stated that your team were taking forward all of this work. There are a number of  issues which need to be progressed including acoustic arrangements, the use of the roof space, the design of the roof and how it relates to the historic fabric and the restoration of the original features. It will be helpful at our meeting to understand what progress has been made on these issues, and what assistance we can provide to move these matters forward. 

2. Full Timber and Damp Surveys; we recognise that you did not feel able to commit to this work but progress is essential for the discharge of planning conditions and the implementation of planning consents. Your master programme given in evidence during the Inquiry stated that the scope of these surveys would be agreed in consultation with the Council and English Heritage. We would like to take forward agreement on the detailed method of these surveys if only to ensure that the proposed works do not themselves require listed building consent. It would be helpful to discuss draft terms of reference at our meeting. If there was a prospect of your Conservation advisors meeting heritage specialists from the Council and English Heritage before our meeting to discuss the technical detail that would be even more helpful. Please let me know if you wish to do this and I will facilitate it. 

3. Development Programme; it will be necessary of course to update the master programme which was presented to the Inquiry and which your company committed itself to deliver. It would be helpful to discuss at our meeting a revised timetable taking into account the 19 week delay in securing the Inspector's findings. This timetable should of course provide the basis for monitoring progress going forward. 

I want to re-state that the Council's only objective here is to secure the implementation of the planning permission and listed building consent are implemented, and that a new Manchester hotel is developed to 4 star standard or equivalent as soon as possible. This objective mirrors your own statement to the Inquiry and we stand prepared to work hard with you to ensure these are achieved. 

I look forward to your reply and to us meeting with English Heritage as soon as possible to move things forward. 

You can read the full council documentation here.

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

tblzebraJanuary 12th 2012.

ooooooooooo very smart move.

Calum McGJanuary 12th 2012.

I hope something good comes of this. It's a wonderful old building.

pammyranJanuary 12th 2012.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, response is received!!

1 Response: Reply To This...
KateJanuary 12th 2012.

there won't be. He ignores everything. If they want a response, they should write to Robert Ferrari, the other director

George PowellJanuary 12th 2012.

The fire station is not the only building left to rot by Brittania. The Tatton Arms which is the back drop to the very attractive riverside park in Northenden and the nearby Church inn have also been allowed to fall into disrepair and been systematically stripped of all their features. I wonder how many other listed buildings around our fair city are owned by this greedy could not care less ompany.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
tblzebraJanuary 12th 2012.

Is the Tatton Arms listed? It's in the conservation area but I can't find details of it - only buildings in and around the church are listed.

George PowellJanuary 13th 2012.

Don`t know but it should be. In particular the old grain store at the side which was used as a theatre before it closed. This most certainly should have a preservation order on it.

Davehill1967January 12th 2012.

Britannia don't own the Tatton Arms!...

6 Responses: Reply To This...
George PowellJanuary 12th 2012.

Who does then? I gathered it was Brittania properties who own both the Tatton and the Church. It is local knowledge round here, maybe its wrong.

tblzebraJanuary 12th 2012.

This makes it sound like they do:

George PowellJanuary 13th 2012.

Thank you TBLZEBRA.

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2012.

Ha Ha Ha @ TBLZEBRA so does he own Britannia Building Society? and the Royal Yacht? get a life......

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2012.

In the same way that British Gas and British Airways aren't associated, Britannia Properties isn't connected to Britannia Hotels, they're distinctly separate companies.

Davehill1967January 13th 2012.

That is NOT the same Britannia. Does the Britannia Building Society belong to him? No!
What about the royal yacht? No!

KateJanuary 12th 2012.

I used to be Alex Langsams PA. The man is an ignorant oaf who doesn't care anout anyone but himself. This is evident in the huge staff turnover the company has on general. This issue with the fire station was still going on 8 years ago when I left, he wanted to turn it int another rotten hotel. If he had any sense he would clean up his existing hotels as they are still in terrible nick. And yes, he does own other properies around Manchester, and abroad that are going to waste....a few friends still work at te head office told me so

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 13th 2012.

Louise, thats not nice...

AnonymousJanuary 13th 2012.

but its true

KateJanuary 13th 2012.

Write to Robert Ferrari, he is the other director

KateJanuary 13th 2012.

It is very true, is that Cath by any chance, since you think it is ok to put my name on here?
Alex Langsam is a nasty piece of work.I know from first hand experience

wendy willowJanuary 14th 2012.

A building such as this, in prime position on the approach to our fine city.... left to rot .... we should all be appalled. Lets all email the directors our concerns. Wendy

PavraoJanuary 22nd 2012.

Just get on with it...such an amazing building and location. If they've not kept their end of the bargain let the court order it to be sold to someone interested in making this an useful building once again. Hope it doesn't crumble as these words are exchanged forever with each one looking at their own advantage.

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