THE protracted battle over the stalled redevelopment of London Road Fire Station has been covered extensively by Confidential culminating in this article.
That concerned a complusory purchase order being refused, and a victory of sorts for Alex Langsam, the boss of Britannia Hotels, the company that owns London Road Fire Station.
The latest salvo comes in the form of a open letter to Langsam from Sir Howard Bernstein; for those who've been following the case, it makes for interesting reading. It's polite, almost helpful and concerned, but clearly aimed to make sure that work on the historic building begins sooner rather than later.
Here it is, dated 19/12/2011 and reproduced in full:
Dear Mr Langsam
London Road Fire Station
The publication of the Inquiry Inspector's Report following the CPO Inquiry underlines the importance of both of us to work constructively to ensure the re-development of this important building is brought forward as soon as possible. I am therefore writing to confirm my commitment and that of the City Council to this end, and to propose that we meet early in the New Year with our colleagues to discuss arrangements for achieving this objective.
I would propose that at this first meeting we discuss the following issues;
1. The discharge of planning conditions; at the Inquiry it was stated that your team were taking forward all of this work. There are a number of issues which need to be progressed including acoustic arrangements, the use of the roof space, the design of the roof and how it relates to the historic fabric and the restoration of the original features. It will be helpful at our meeting to understand what progress has been made on these issues, and what assistance we can provide to move these matters forward.
2. Full Timber and Damp Surveys; we recognise that you did not feel able to commit to this work but progress is essential for the discharge of planning conditions and the implementation of planning consents. Your master programme given in evidence during the Inquiry stated that the scope of these surveys would be agreed in consultation with the Council and English Heritage. We would like to take forward agreement on the detailed method of these surveys if only to ensure that the proposed works do not themselves require listed building consent. It would be helpful to discuss draft terms of reference at our meeting. If there was a prospect of your Conservation advisors meeting heritage specialists from the Council and English Heritage before our meeting to discuss the technical detail that would be even more helpful. Please let me know if you wish to do this and I will facilitate it.
3. Development Programme; it will be necessary of course to update the master programme which was presented to the Inquiry and which your company committed itself to deliver. It would be helpful to discuss at our meeting a revised timetable taking into account the 19 week delay in securing the Inspector's findings. This timetable should of course provide the basis for monitoring progress going forward.
I want to re-state that the Council's only objective here is to secure the implementation of the planning permission and listed building consent are implemented, and that a new Manchester hotel is developed to 4 star standard or equivalent as soon as possible. This objective mirrors your own statement to the Inquiry and we stand prepared to work hard with you to ensure these are achieved.
I look forward to your reply and to us meeting with English Heritage as soon as possible to move things forward.
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