Conservation campaigners are urging Manchester City Council to remain ‘wary’ of negotiations made with Britannia Hotel chiefs to save the ‘rotting’ London Road Fire Station.
In a dramatic turn of events, chiefs at Britannia Hotel agreed to abide by a ‘development agreement’ with the city council just hours before their imposed Compulsory Purchase Order decision deadline.
Despite the hotel chain’s last minute interest in developing the Grade II*-listed building that has laid largely empty since 1986, architectural campaign charity The Victorian Society are urging council bosses to make sure that any restoration is completed within a strict time frame to stop Britannia Hotel from ‘dragging on’ any proceedings.
James Hughes, Conservation Adviser for the charity, said: “London Road Fire Station’s slow decay over the 28 years it has been owned by Britannia Hotels is depressing to say the least.
“This landmark, Grade II*-listed Edwardian building should be at the heart of the community and driving regeneration rather than slowly rotting.
“Manchester Council must work with Britannia Hotels to ensure that prompt remedial action is taken to prevent any further decay.”
He added, “However, given the history of the case, the council should be wary of negotiation over precise terms dragging on indefinitely – action is needed in the immediate future.”
The society’s request comes after Friends of London Road Fire Station (FoLRFS) campaigners called up the hotel’s last-minute adherence to the redevelopment requirements as a ‘scandalous tactic to try and stall the processes’.
Adam Prince, founder of FoLRFS explained to MM on Monday his concern over Britannia’s intentions: “There was clearly a legal document stipulated by the council asking for a development agreement to address the plans today, and they clearly hadn’t responded to the actual legal document that was required to be used.
“So it can only be seen that they haven’t actually agreed to support the council or make that commitment to redevelop as we expected, so anything that has been seen in this letter should be taken as deeply untrue.”
Manchester’s London Road Fire Station, which is located directly opposite Piccadilly Railway Station, once housed a police station and a coroner’s court.
The Edwardian building also provided accommodation to the families of 40 firemen, yet decades of underuse has left the station in a very poor condition and in need of vital repair.
Image courtesy of Mikey, with thanks