The game’s up for Manulife

PUBLISHED: 12:40 20 July 2006 | UPDATED: 10:31 06 May 2010

The Manulife building

The Manulife building

THE clearest indication yet that the eyesore Manulife House building will disappear from the skyline of Stevenage was disclosed this week. It came in a report to the county council s cabinet which meets next Monday. Members will be asked to give the go-ah

THE clearest indication yet that the eyesore Manulife House building will disappear from the skyline of Stevenage was disclosed this week.

It came in a report to the county council's cabinet which meets next Monday.

Members will be asked to give the go-ahead for the fire and ambulance station in St George's Way to be replaced by a new one adjoining it - on the site of Manulife House which has been empty for 10 years and been the target of vandals and arsonists.

Stevenage Borough Council has been pledged £3.5m of Government money to help fund an urban regeneration scheme.

It would involve building a three-storey fire and ambulance station with four floors of flats above it on the Manulife site and more housing on the existing station site.

It is proposed to provide a total of 187 dwellings, 64 of them for social housing and the rest for sale.

The development would be done by Genesis Housing Association which submitted a planning application in May. It is expected to be determined by the borough council's planning and development committee on August 15.

A compulsory purchase order for Manulife House is in the pipeline.

Borough councillors have been frustrated by what they see as delaying tactics by the owner of Manulife House, Bluebird Holdings.

Threatened with legal action for doing nothing with the building, it put in a planning application to convert Manulife House into a hotel. It was approved last month.

But a report to the county council's cabinet meeting next week says: "This action is seen as a tactic by the owner to support his negotiating position in respect of the compulsory purchase order and the assessment of the price to be paid for the land."

Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor said: "I am fed up to the back teeth with the building and would like to see it come down tomorrow.

"It is an eyesore but our officers say we have to be patient.

"I can't comment on a developer's tactics but we would hope that we will be able to acquire the site for housing which Stevenage people need. We want to make it happen.

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