Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Council wants fire station back

London Road Fire Station
The former fire station was built between 1904 and 1906

A Grade II listed former fire station in Manchester which has been empty for eight years must be brought back into public use, a report has said.

Manchester City Council wants to issue a compulsory purchase order (CPO) for London Road Fire Station.

It believes owner Britannia Hotels has taken too long to develop the site, which it has owned since 1985.

But financial director Robert Ferrari said the company remained committed to turning the building into a hotel.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said despite the council's best efforts, the site remained unused.

It is is one of the buildings that people complain more to the council about than anything else
Sir Richard Leese, council leader

"It's one of our finest buildings, one of our finest locations, it's a gateway site to the city centre," he said.

"It is one of the buildings that people complain more to the council about than anything else.

"I think there is a real desire from lots of people in the city to see this fantastic building having a worthwhile use rather than just sitting there semi-derelict."

'Baroque style'

The imposing building is located at the junction of London Road and Fairfield Street, opposite Piccadilly Station.

It was constructed between 1904 and 1906 and served as the headquarters for Manchester's Fire Brigade in the first half of the 20th Century, eventually closing in the mid 1980s.

London Road Fire Station
The fire station was previously used as the company's head office

The building was listed in October 1974 while it was still a functioning fire station, but was placed on English Heritage's At Risk Register in 2001.

Its listing describes the building as an "ebullient Edwardian Baroque style".

Mr Ferrari said the Hale-based company had used the building as a headquarters "up until a few years ago".

"We've only been out of it eight years or so," he told BBC Radio Manchester.

"It's a great surprise to us - we thought we were in negotiations with Manchester [City Council]."

Representatives of the company have a meeting with the council on Tuesday in which they will submit plans for a 300-bed hotel on the site, he added.

Manchester City Council's executive board will vote on whether to pursue the CPO on Wednesday.

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