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West End Extra - by JAMIE WELHAM
Published: 7 November 2008
Manchester Square fire station
Manchester Square fire station
It’s a rare thing: A luxury hotel plan with community support

A DILAPIDATED Marylebone fire station that has stood empty for more than three years is to be turned into a luxury hotel.
Manchester Square fire station was decommissioned in 2005 and has since been used ­sporadically as an
exhibition space for local artists.
The move has been welcomed by residents, who have long feared the listed building would be irreparably damaged if it lay vacant for any longer.
Proposals for a
33-room American-run boutique hotel in Chiltern Street were submitted to the council’s planning department this week by owners the Portman Estate.
But it could be a while before the
workmen move in – with warnings that the council’s rigid planning policy could hamper the change from community use to a hotel.
Harvey Marshall, Tory councillor for Marylebone High Street ward, said: “The sooner it is redeveloped the better. It was deteriorating and, unusually for a hotel development, the local area is behind it.
“But it is a complex planning problem, and for it to go ahead we will have to find a way of getting community benefits from the hotel, which will involve looking at some of the Estate’s ­other properties.”
Chiltern Street resident Gloria May, who spearheaded the fight to save the Victorian fire station, said she was looking ­forward to seeing the building being restored to its former glory.
“I think this is the best outcome. We wanted a fire station and we couldn’t have one, but it has become dilapidated and this is the best way of giving it the spring clean it so badly needs.”
The development is expected to be the first of many in Chiltern Street, with a number of leases due to expire next year. Landlords the Portman Estate, are working with the ­council to try and bring the street on a par with nearby Marylebone High Street.
They are looking to strike a deal where the community use will be met from the relocation of the exclusive preparatory school, Wetherby, from Notting Hill to Bryanston Square.
Simon Loomes, strategic projects director said: “Under the proposals there will be money for a number of public realm improvements in the street. The change of use is a technical issue, and what we are doing is offering up another site in Bryanston Square for an expanded Wetherby School.”
In June 2005 the fire station was closed and its two engines moved outside the borough by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA). After losing the campaign, residents floated the idea of a privately funded Marylebone Fire Brigade but it never came to fruition.

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