§ Mr. Cormack
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about the future of St. Pancras Chambers.
§ Mr. Freeman
The long term use of St. Pancras Chambers, the grade 1 listed former Midland Grand hotel, has been under review by British Rail, whose preferred solution is to return the building to use as a high-quality hotel, but no options are ruled out. British Rail is exploring options with private sector involvement.
British Rail considers that it is unlikely that the full commercial potential of the building can be realised until the benefits resulting from the works included in the King's Cross Railways Bill and the associated lands development scheme are completed. During the interim period British Rail is therefore examining possible alternative uses.
As a first step in the overall programme there is a need to undertake extensive works to stabilise both the interior and exterior of the building and ensure that it remains in a safe condition. Following a very detailed survey by specialist architects, British Rail is therefore shortly to embark on a major programme of remedial works.
Full consultation with the local authority and appropriate heritage bodies have commenced. Provision of the necessary funds for this work is already covered by the external finance provision made by the Government for British Rail. This work will take about two years to complete, and during that time British Rail will keep options for both short and long term under review.