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Best-read stories and most-watched videos of 2023

From skyscraper ambitions to power station demolitions, the past year has been anything but dull. Here’s a countdown of the headlines that piqued your interest, the videos you loved, and the podcasts you enjoyed in 2023.

Best-read stories

House of Social Vita Group p.planning docs

Vita’s House of Social was one of three approved student accommodation schemes at the June meeting. Credit: via planning documents

10. Manchester approves every project on colossal planning agenda

Manchester City Cllr Jon-Connor Lyons made a strong debut as planning and highways committee chair on 1 June with a three-hour meeting that saw decisions on nine major applications. Each got the green light, resulting in the approval of 742,000 sq ft of offices, 1,762 student bends, 821 homes, a school, a Lidl, and a hotel.

Preston Mosque 2, Luca Poian Forms, P RIBA

The Preston mosque got a seal of approval from the secretary of state in January. Credit: Luca Poian Forms via RIBA

9. Landmark Preston mosque signed off by secretary of state

The controversial mosque in Preston received planning permission in January, after being called-in by the secretary of state. Concerns over traffic and the impact on open countryside and the visuals of nearby historic buildings were shot down by the secretary of state. That decision has paved the way for the future delivery of the Luca Poian Form-designed mosque off D’Urton Lane. We haven’t heard much about the 16,000 sq ft mosque since the decision – but we’ll be keeping an eye on it in 2024.

Wirral MoD site tight Wirral Council p.Aew

Layout for the former Ministry of Defence site. Credit: Aew Architects

8. Wirral plans sale of 19-acre former MoD site

In March, Wirral Council was looking to sell 19 acres off Old Hall Road – a plot of land that had recently secured outline planning permission for 250 homes.

Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport CGI UPDATED Sefton Council p planning documents

Work started on the Sefton Council scheme in August. Credit: via planning documents

7. Work starts on £73m Marine Lake Events Centre

Main contractor Kier started work on the large-scale conference and event facility in Southport in August. First on the to-do list – demolish the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre currently occupying the site. At the time Sefton Council, which is leading the project, estimates the centre will complete in 2026.

There was another Marine Lake Events Centre update in December. The project has now secured its operator: ASM Global, a group that also operates the AO Arena and Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, and First Direct Arena in Leeds.

Stockport Pyramid, Eamar Developments, Smith & Brown CC BY . via Wikimedia Commons

The Stockport Pyramid had been vacant since 2017. Credit: via archive. Credit: Smith & Brown, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

6. Stockport Pyramid to become restaurant

The iconic office block is all set for a transformation into a 1,500-cover dining destination. Place was first with the news that Royal Nawaab would be leasing the ex-Co-operative Bank building. That was in June. Fast forward to September, and plans were submitted to create a restaurant with three banqueting halls.

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The Royal Daffodil was a Mersey Ferry until it was decommissioned in 2012. Credit: via planning documents

5. Brookside actor to turn Royal Daffodil into restaurant, hotel

Philip Oliver secured planning permission to convert the former Mersey ferry into a floating seafood restaurant and hotel in June from Liverpool City Council. Our commenters were largely supportive of the endeavour, with Gill writing: “So pleased the Royal Daffodil has been rescued and will become beautiful once again. Broke my heart to see it rotting away. Thank you.”

Renaker tallest CGI Great Jackson Street, Renaker, p planning

SimpsonHaugh designed the skyscraper for Renaker. Credit: via planning documents

4. Renaker tables plans for Manchester’s tallest building

This story was one of our most commented on articles in 2023, with 91 comments published. We cannot blame you for being interested – it’s not every day you get to see plans for skyscraper of this size in Manchester. We were a bit spoiled this year, though, when it came to skyscrapers. In addition to plans going in for the SimpsonHaugh-designed Lighthouse, there was also a consultation for an even taller 76-storey skyscraper from Salboy and a 240-metre tower from Henley Investments in Salford.

Empress Mill Trafford Press Acuitus p.Acuitus

The site sold in August. Credit: via Acuitus

3. Old Trafford eyesore goes under hammer after two failed sales

We’re going all the way back to February for our third best-read story of 2023. Back then, Liquidator Azets was putting the two-acre stalled Trafford Press and Empress Mill sites on the auction block. Months later, a buyer would be found – London-based Magenta Property.

Great Jackson Street with Plot D, Renaker, p planning

Lighthouse features a 70th floor restaurant. Credit: via planning documents

2. Renaker unveils plans for Manchester’s first 70-storey skyscraper

The journey back in time continues, with a stop in January. Our second best-read story was the moment when Renaker signalled its intention to break the 70-storey ceiling in Manchester.

Liverpool waterfront, c Phil Kiel on Unsplash

Liverpool City Council will end its lease of the Liverpool Cruise Terminal. Credit: Phil Kiel on Unsplash

1. Liverpool City Council to pull out of cruise terminal

Our best-read story of 2023 was one that courted some controversy. Liverpool City Council announced it would be surrendering its lease on the Liverpool Cruise Terminal after 15 years back in November. The move was to enable the private sector to take over – and a global operator was already lined up for the job. This operator, reported to be Global Port Holdings, has the capacity to carry on with the plans for the long-awaited new cruise terminal project on Princes Dock – but there’s no guarantee that they will do so, which means that scheme is in purgatory for a little while longer at least.

Top 3 videos

3. Sneak peek: Visiting Manchester Town Hall

We took a sneak peek behind the hoardings to explore the £330m restoration of Manchester Town Hall back in March.

2. First look: Manchester Airport set for £440m improvement

Using CGIs from Manchester Airport, we gave you a brief tour of what to expect from the expanded Terminal 2. Construction on the project, the final phase of the airport’s £1.3bn transformation project, is to complete in 2025.

1. Fiddlers Ferry power station demolition

Who doesn’t love a good explosion? Thanks to footage from Sky Revolutions, we were able to provide our readers with a dynamic view of the razing of four of the former power station’s cooling towers.

Top 3 podcasts

3. How to build more homes in uncertain times

Constant tinkering with the planning system and a volatile economic landscape are two of the biggest issues contributing to the housing crisis, according to Urban Strategy director Jackie Sadek and Winckworth Sherwood partners Colette McCormack and Lindsay Garratt.

2. Marketing best practices for the property industry

What are the dos and don’ts of crafting the perfect business development strategy? This Place North podcast episode digs into all things marketing within the built environment, with the help of Civic Engineers’ Katrina Davis and our own Dino Moutsopoulos.

1. Can one piece of tech save developers weeks of work?

Accelerating the delivery of buildings of all shapes and sizes is imperative if our towns and cities are to grow and thrive. A piece of software developed by VU.CITY is doing just that.

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