End of an era as former Burnley Express office sold
The former Burnley Express office, a landmark building in the town centre, has been sold, a year after the newspaper moved to a new home.The new owner is property developer Ian Walker, who announced today he plans to transform the three storey building in Bull Street into 14 apartments and four or five retail units on the ground floor.
Although he refused to say how much he has bought the property for, Ian did reveal he planned to spend around Â£750,000 on refurbishing the building that was home to the Burnley Express for around 84 years.
Ian, who is gaining a reputation as "Mr Burnley" is familiar with the building as he was often interviewed in the newsroom during his stint as a DJ and promoter at a variety of nightspots in the town in the 1980s.
He said: "I was often in the Express office but I never dreamed then that one day I would own it."
The building had been up for auction with Pugh and Co until Ian made an offer on the property.
He plans to start the renovation work in the next four to five weeks.
Ian has even created his own separate company, OBE which stands for Old Burnley Express, to deal with the redevelopment project.
The owner of the Ian Walker Property Group, the Bull Street building is the latest acquisition for Ian in a portfolio of 140 properties across the North West.
He owns a number in Burnley town centre including the listed former home of the law firm SFN in Red Lion Street
and the former Garden Bar and the Bees Knees bar which he converted into apartments and shops.
Ian, whose daughter Holly works alongside him as assistant project manager, said he felt that Burnley, where he was born and bred and still lives, was "on the up."
He said: "I have not had any problems letting the apartments because there are a lot of people who want to live in the town centre.
"People have been very critical of the town centre re-development but it is now starting to look great, you have to give these things time. There is a lot happening in this town that is very positive at the moment.
"I have properties all over the North West but my heart belongs in Burnley and this is where I love to be."
The Burnley Express moved out of its Bull Street home in August last year and is now based at the Empire Business Park in Liverpool Road with sister papers the Nelson Leader/Colne Times and the Clitheroe Advertiser.
The move marked the end of an era for the building which had been home to the company since 1933.
The paper was originally founded as the Burnley Express and East Lancashire Observer by printer George Frankland who was from Preston.
When the Burnley Express was taken over by the Preston based Burnley News in 1933 the business moved out of St Jame's Row across into Bull Street where it was to remain until 2016.