Friends Meet Council Chief Executive
On Thursday the amazing news was announced that after 30 years of inaction Britannia Hotels have instructed Hotel and Leisure experts Christie and Co to market the London Road Fire Station for Sale. Shortly before the announcement members of our committee met with Manchester City Council’s Chief Executive Howard Bernstein and Head of City Centre Regeneration Pat Bartoli to discuss how we can work together in light of this changed situation.
The council were in the process of initiating a new Compulsory Purchase Order but hopefully this will not be necessary now that the building is up for sale. We are delighted that Britannia have taken this significant step and are cautiously optimistic that this signals the beginning of a new lease of life for the Building. It came as no surprise to us to hear during last night’s BBC interview (see below to listen) that there has already been considerable interest in the building. We will be keeping a close eye on the situation as it develops to try and ensure any new owner understands the importance of the Building to the people of Manchester. Whilst all involved hope that yesterday’s announcement means a CPO can be avoided, the council can press ahead with a CPO if the sale process does not progress.
Public Consultation, Survey, Public Debate and a good time to become “a friend”
We will continue with our consultation exercise producing a document that can be made available to prospective developers and the Planning Authority to ensure the community’s aspirations for the site are clearly communicated to all involved. We are very encouraged by comments from Howard Bernstein in yesterday’s meeting. He described the Friends of London Road Fire Station as a “positive force” and made a commitment to keep us updated on developments and to engage with us in due course as new proposals come forward. Please participate in our survey, sign the petition and become a Friend of London Road Fire Station (free membership). It is vital that we continue to demonstrate the level of public interest in a productive future for the building. We are also organising a public “question time” style debate with an expert panel on 1st July. This will be a chance to hear from a range of experts and continue to press for an appropriate redevelopment of the site. Whilst the building is being marketed for use as a hotel other uses are not ruled out.
A hotel? Or something else?
The building coming onto the market presents a big opportunity to press for alternative viable ideas to come forward. It is clear from our research that the public understand that any proposal must be commercially viable but that they also have high aspirations. After three decades it is crucial that any development really makes the best of the building and respect’s its incredible community history. Complete the survey or get in touch with any ideas. If you are interested in buying the building Christie and Co are handling enquiries but we would be very happy to talk to anyone who would like to discuss ideas or proposals or who wants to understand more about the history of the fire station out of general interest of with a view to buying. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Watch this space for more information.