Manchester’s disused London Road Fire Station has been put up for sale by current owner Britannia Hotels after more than two decades of uncertainty about the Grade II* listed building’s future
The Edwardian Baroque building by Woodhouse, Willoughby and Langham, was opened in 1906 and went on to house Manchester Fire Brigade, ambulance services and the coroner’s office until its last public-sector occupants left in the 1980s.
Britannia Hotels bought the building in 1993 and has planning consent for the conversion and extension of the property to form an upscale 227 bedroom hotel, but the scheme has not progressed.
In 2010 Manchester City Council threatened the use of a Compulsory Purchase Order to progress the site. The authority today (April 30) said it supported Britania’s plans to sell the red brick and terracotta landmark.
A spokesman said: ‘The regeneration of the Piccadilly area is at a pivotal stage and the re-use of the London Road Fire Station as a hotel will improve the appearance of the wider area, create new jobs and maximise the opportunities created through HS2.’
Emma Curtin, chair of the Friends of London Road Fire Station group, said members were ‘thrilled’ that decades of stalemate over the building’s future could be over.
‘Our desire has always been for an owner who will restore this beautiful Grade II*-listed building and develop it sympathetically for mixed use,’ she said.
‘Naturally we would like to see any new owner do just that and if it changes hands, we shall approach them to work with us.’
A statement from Brittania said the firm felt ‘the time is now appropriate to conduct an open and transparent sales process’.
The building’s sale is being handled by Christie + Co.
Previous story (AJ 21.11.2006)
‘Iconic’ Manchester fire station faces uncertain future
The future of Manchester’s iconic London Road fire station is hanging in the balance as developers and council leaders have called for extra time to consider its fate.
The Grade II*-listed building has been placed on English Heritage’s ‘at risk’ register, and discussions are currently taking place over how it can be regenerated.
The council is backing a scheme put forward by the Piccadilly Partnership which includes developers Argent and Liverpool- and London-based architect Austin Smith:Lord, which would see the building renovated and converted into a new music and leisure venue.
However, the building’s owner, Britannia Hotels, has repeatedly rejected such proposals in favour of its own scheme - a new hotel, with office space for the company as well as a fire station museum.
The building has been described as a ‘rotting hulk’ by developers, and the council is eager to see the building restored to fit in with the surrounding regeneration of the Piccadilly area.
The council has even threatened Britannia Hotels with a compulsory purchase order if an agreement over the building’s future cannot be reached, and the council claims it has been unable to visit the site and assess the full extent of the building’s state.
Manchester Council chief executive Howard Bernstein said in a statement: ‘The fire station is a fine landmark with a crucial role to play in the ongoing regeneration of the area. We believe Piccadilly Partnership’s proposals for a mixed-use events and music venue have significant potential and welcome the positive dialogue between the partnership and the building’s owner Britannia Hotels to explore the idea.
In the meantime, we are pressing for work to prevent the Grade II*-listed building deteriorating to be carried out as soon as possible,’ he added.