MediaCity sunset Landsec and Peel LP c Orry Verducci on Unsplash

The BBC's plans to scale back its office footprint at Media City was the best read story of the year. Credit: Orry Verducci on Unsplash

Best read stories of 2022 

The BBC’s plans to significantly downsize at MediaCity, proposals for a five-acre park in Liverpool, and the next exciting element of Stockport’s town centre regeneration all captured Place North West readers’ imaginations this year.

BBC to leave Bridge House 

Citing the rise of hybrid working and net zero commitments, the media company said it would leave the 100,000 sq ft Salford building by spring 2024. 

This move was part of a wider trend that saw many companies reduce their office footprints amid a move to a more flexible model of working.

Deloitte was another one. Having vacated 67,000 sq ft in Spinningfields in 2020, the company signed a 10-year lease on 42,000 sq ft at 100 Embankment in June. 

Blackpool hotels to be demolished to make way for 92 flats 

The Ruppert family is behind plans to demolish Skye, Colwyn, and Headlands hotels on New South Promenade and build two apartment blocks. 

Despite being submitted in March, the applications are yet to be determined by Blackpool Council. 

The Blackpool scheme will feature two apartment blocks. Credit: via planning documents

Bellway trials roof-mounted air source heat pump 

Claiming a UK first, the housebuilder installed the 200kg low-carbon tech at the experimental eco-house The Future Home at the University of Salford. 

The Future Home is being built by Bellway inside a climate-controlled chamber at the university as part of the £16m Energy House 2.0 research project, which is being part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.  

The home will test low-carbon technologies and their impact on the cost of living. 

The pursuit of sustainability has been one of the key themes of 2022. In May, Bruntwood Works unveiled plans for Ev0, billed as the UK’s first zero-carbon new-build office development. 

Stockport plots medium-term Debenhams revamp 

In June, Place North West reported on Stockport Council’s plans for the former Debenhams department store. 

At that time, the authority was being cagy with the details of its strategy but said it planned to “bring the building up to a standard that would enable one or more commercial uses to occupy in the former department store”. 

In November, more details of the project emerged; the 90,000 sq ft building is to be converted into film studios. 

The long-term plan remains to redevelop the site of the former department store into a £500m hospital. 

Central Park Aerial Illustrative CGI Peel LP p Peel LP

Planit-IE designed the Liverpool Waters park. Credit: via Peel L&P

Plans in for Peel’s Liverpool Central Park 

Peel L&P submitted plans for a 4.7-acre public park as part of its £5bn Liverpool Waters development. 

Designed by Planit-IE, the park will feature more a 5,000 sq ft of children’s play area, a 3,600 sq ft community garden, and nearly 27,000 sq ft of open parkland. 

The news of Liverpool’s new public park came during the same year that Manchester’s £23m Mayfield Park opened to much fanfare.

Liverpool’s former John Lewis hits market 

A famous Liverpool building hit the market in September when HilcoGlobal was appointed as receiver to sell the 250-year leasehold of 20-48 Basnett Street, once home to department store John Lewis. 

Located off Williamson Square in the city centre, the George Henry Lee Building offers 153,000 sq ft of retail space across nine floors but could be converted into other uses. 

Stockport launches next chunk of £1bn town centre regen 

The town’s mayoral development corporation announced its intention to form a joint venture to deliver Stockport 8, an eight-acre site earmarked for a £250m “digitally-capable, walkable neighbourhood” comprising up to 1,200 homes.  

Stockport 8, which could also feature retail and leisure uses alongside offices, is located off Daw Bank, west of Stockport Viaduct, and incorporates the Stagecoach depot.  

Stockport MDC launched a procurement exercise for the £250m opportunity in the summer and is expected to unveil its chosen partner in March. 

Stockport 8 features plans for 1,000 homes. Credit: via Stockport MDC

House by Urban Splash calls in administrators 

The modular housing company collapsed in May following “operational issues” relating to its factory in Alfreton. 

The company was established when Urban Splash acquired the modular arm of SIG for £1 in 2018. This deal included SIG’s factory in Alfreton. 

The following year, Japanese modular firm Sekisui came on board, taking an initial 35% stake in the business. 

In June, administrator Teneo reported that the company only had enough cash to pay off half of what it owed at the time of the collapse. 

Manchester rents at record high, supply at new low 

A report by Urbanbubble laid bare the city centre’s chronic shortage of homes and the impact this was having on rents. 

Developers started building more than 5,000 new homes in 2022, the most in the city for a decade, but a lack of supply forced rents up as much as 38% in some areas. 

On average, rents in Manchester, Salford and Trafford have increased by 20% over the last year. 

Govt green lights long-awaited Mottram bypass 

A £200m project aimed at easing traffic jams on the A57 between Manchester and Sheffield has been given the go-ahead after decades of clamour for a solution to the congestion.   

Contractor Balfour Beatty could now begin work next spring.  

The news was welcomed by commuters who have suffered in traffic jams on the route for years but was slammed by some local residents, who are concerned about the project’s environmental impact.   

Your Comments

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The noticeable thing when considering PNW articles with so many comments is just how uninformed many of those commenting really are. Perhaps a New Year resolution for PNW and all of us built environment professionals should be to a) do more to educate and inform people about what we do, and why; and b) communicate our good news better, so it can’t be misinterpreted and so that people see the benefits and not just the negatives.

By and by

The ex John Lewis/GH Lee building in Liverpool deserves quality occupants, but it`s extremely doubtful if it will be a single store again. The taller section could be a hotel or apartment block, while the smaller building could be used for shopping with someone like Anthropologie or Uniqlo as anchor, meanwhile the whole of Williamson Square needs a re-think with new shops, restaurants, bars etc all complementing the presence of the Playhouse Theatre, stressing the good communications offered especially with the presence of nearby Central Station.

By Anonymous

Re; the proposed park at Liverpool Waters, this is now quoted as part of Peel`s £4billion development, when not too long ago it was £5b, so which is it? Also based on the progress made so far we`ll be lucky in the end to get £2billion worth of development , and that uncludes the life-saving Everton stadium. It`s not really a Peel development as they do very little except facilitate, mostly with the help of public money, it`s not them who are building the stadium, the IOM ferry terminal, the Lexington Tower, Central Docks development , etc.

By Anonymous

    Hi Anonymous – thanks for your comment. The correct figure is £5bn. The story has been adjusted accordingly. – Julia

    By Julia Hatmaker

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