UPDATE May 20: The University of Lincoln has finally confirmed that it is in the process of buying the Lincolnshire Echo building. The statement comes 6 days after the Lincolnshire Echo initially reported the acquisition. The University of Lincoln said:
“The university is in the process of acquiring the Lincolnshire Echo building as a Business and Law Faculty building. Terms have been agreed, a planning application for change of use has been submitted and the university and vendors’ solicitors are making good progress with the necessary legal due diligence checks. It is anticipated that completion of the acquisition will take place in July 2009.”
“A full report on the purchase will be made to the university’s Board of Governors’ meeting on the 26th June 2009. Providing all goes well Business and Law will move into the building in 2010.”
The planning applications submitted by the university can be found here.
A planning application submitted by the university to Lincoln City Council this week revealed the deal to switch the Echo’s offices to academic use. However, the university say the acquisition of the building is not yet finalised.
It was speculated that the Lincoln School of Journalism would be the likeliest candidate to move into the building. But other sources revealed that faculty of Business and Law will be the ones to move into the Echo’s offices.
Despite the obvious connection, the head of the Lincoln School of journalism, Professor John Tulloch, denied that the School would be moving into the building: “The Journalism School is not moving. We are very happy here in our excellent location, next to Siren FM and with our seven great newsrooms and handsome academic accommodation on the third floor.”
Jon Grubb, the editor of the Lincolnshire Echo, told The Linc:
“This is a fantastic opportunity to move into premises furnished with the kind of new technology that is vital for a modern multi media company.
“It also signals another step forward for the University which plays such a vital part in the future of Lincoln,” Mr Grubb added.
Lincolnshire Media, which includes the Echo, is planning to move just a few metres down the road into the currently vacant ground floor of Witham Wharf, an apartment building. An application to allow the ground floor to be used by businesses was filed on behalf of Witham Wharf in April.
The Echo has used its current building for over 20 years. “The building is being sold for redevelopment because, since the closure of the printing press, the company no longer needs the space offered at its present location,” said Mr Grubb.
The current turmoil in the newspaper industry may have forced the Echo’s hand into raising money by selling off their current home. The paper’s owner, Northcliffe – the regional arm of the Daily Mail and General Trust, said in March that they would cut 1,000 jobs by Christmas. Advertising revenues at the company fell 37% during the first three months of this year.
The group also moved sub-editors, who check news stories for mistakes, from local newspapers to ‘hubs’ in Hull and Nottingham. About 50 people were affected by the move, though John Meehan, Northcliffe’s north-east editorial director, said there would be “not more than 20” redundancies, according to Hold the Front Page.Tweet