Britannia Hotels' Manchester fire station for sale
A Grade II-listed property at the centre of a dispute between Britannia Hotels and Manchester City Council has been put up for sale.
Britannia Hotels, which has owned the former London Road Fire Station for 29 years, has been at loggerheads with the council for its failure to develop the site.
The building was made the subject of a second compulsory purchase order attempt (CPO) in January, after Sir Richard Lee, leader of Manchester City Council, said that Britannia had displayed "reckless abandon" by leaving an "incredibly important, landmark property" undeveloped for almost three decades.
An earlier CPO sought by the council was rejected by a government inspector in 2011 after Britannia assured a public inquiry that work to develop the building was imminent.
In autumn 2014, the council invited Britannia to sign "a legally-binding implementation agreement" to develop the property as a hotel and allow joint structural surveys of the building to take place.
But when it failed to receive a satisfactory response from Britannia, the council sought approval for a second CPO, citing the redevelopment of the fire station as a hotel is as an integral part of the wider regeneration of the Piccadilly area of Manchester.
A Manchester City Council 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. The council supports the sale of this important landmark building."
Now Britannia has put the hotel on the market on a freehold basis. Designed in an Edwardian Baroque style by Woodhouse, Willoughby and Langham in red brick and terracotta, the building was completed in 1906. It operated for around 80 years in a variety of civil purposes and was subsequently closed and sold in 1986.
Planning and listed building consent has been granted for the conversion and extension of the property to a 227-bedroom hotel with associated facilities, across more than 13,000 sq m of real estate, including restaurants, bar facilities and function spaces.
The sale is being jointly handled by Jeremy Jones, head of hotels brokerage, and Jon Patrick, head of leisure & development, both at Christie + Co.
Patrick said: "The average sale price of hotels in the UK increased by over 17% in 2014 and the hospitality sector is witnessing a robust period of investment both for individual and portfolio opportunities.
"Strategically located properties, particularly those with the character and history of the Fire Station make for superb hotel real estate conversions and we have been encouraged by the early interest generated from both the UK and overseas."
A spokesperson for Britannia Hotels added: "The dynamics of the UK's hotel market have improved significantly since 2009 and Manchester's key trading characteristics have returned strongly. Following a number of successful development transactions in the city and the high profile single asset sale of the Lowry for example, we feel the time is now appropriate to conduct an open and transparent sales process."
Manchester City Council in new CPO on Britannia fire station site >>