It's all systems go for fire station sale

Birmingham’s historic Central Fire Station has been sold to developer Watkin Jones for an undisclosed sum.

The landmark Fire Station, at Lancaster Circus, was put up for sale last year by the West Midlands Fire Service and Rescue Authority as the premises, which dates back to the 1930s, is no longer suitable for their evolved working practices.

Sellling agent CB Richard Ellis received numerous offers for the site. This was subsequently sold unconditionally to Watkin Jones who are currently working up a suitable mixed use scheme.

The Bangor-based property developer and building contractor, which specialises in student accommodation, homes and commercial development, will retain the Grade II listed fire station. Likely uses will include residential, a hotel and student housing. Watkin Jones are undertaking numerous projects in Birmingham including 600 student bed accommodation at Jennens Road and 250 beds in Moland Street. Details of further sites will be released early in 2008.

The West Midlands Fire Service will use the monies from the site’s sale to contribute towards funding the relocation of its administrative headquarters and fire control centre to a new 109,000 sq ft/10,126 sq m purpose-built premises at Vauxhall Road, close Birmingham’s Eastside regeneration area. The organisation will move in next year.

The team at property advisers CB Richard Ellis advised on the relocation and disposal and was lead by Andrew Meikle, director and head of the development team. Working jointly on the disposal was Rupert Detheridge from CBRE’s residential team with support from planning expert Andrew Bowe.

Mr Meikle said: “It is no secret that the Fire Station site has been earmarked for development for some years. It is situated at a main artery into the city centre and as such is a prime development site.

“Before being instructed to put the site on the market we worked with Birmingham City Council’s planning team for more than 18 months to establish suitable uses for the site.”

The Fire Station sits on a 1.7 acre triangular site. The main buildings provide 130,000 sq ft/12,077 sq m of space and are set around a central courtyard. The building itself has several features of architectural interest, including the 12 original fire station appliance bay doors, and a clock tower over the main entrance. Both these features will be retained in the proposed new development.

Watkin Jones aims to submit a planning application for the site in early in 2008.