Month in property | November
What price culture? Oldham Council has binned the £27m plan for a new Coliseum Theatre at Southgate Street, although it committed to a £7m heritage and arts centre at the library. The council continues to work with the Coliseum and Arts Council to create a fit-for-purpose facility, and it should be bold – the town needs a focal point and with its strong reputation for developing actors, why not this? It’s always a question of resources though, and Oldham must wish it had Manchester’s clout – the announcement of a further £20m being earmarked for The Factory hasn’t gone down well. If the city hadn’t got such a sweet deal at the outset from George Osborne, and had Sir Richard Leese driving it through on the basis the council has already spent £23m, The Factory could have been added to Manchester’s “might have been” pile.
What’s this, a High Court ruling involving neither Peel nor Cheshire East Council? Sefton Council was the unlucky party, having tried to make Highways England reconsider its access route to the Port of Liverpool, putting a frankly unlikely-sounding tunnel in the mix along with the 3km road across Rimrose Country Park. With there being a vowel in the name of the month however, both Peel and CEC were also involved in big decisions, both losing out. The local authority decided a 29-house ‘green gap’ scheme in Shavington was a hill worth dying on, while Peel, with some logic, argued that its Worsley housing should win through because Salford’s five-year supply is titled heavily towards whopping towers on the Manchester border. The Secretary of State thought otherwise.
Don of design
Paul Monaghan, locally-born founding partner of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, has been named as the Liverpool city region’s design champion. It may or may not be significant this has taken place at metro rather than city level, and time will tell if additional scrutiny and guidance can lift projects coming forward above the norm – clients not value-engineering designs will also be needed of course. Monaghan feels right – stature, an understanding of the city, removed enough to be neutral and seen as such. Might there be calls for Manchester to follow suit? It’s hard to think of a reason why not.
Sony business Computer Entertainment Europe is looking to move to the old Liverpool Echo building from Wavertree Technology Park, once fit out is complete in 2020 at Old Hall Street, where offices will sit alongside a hotel and retail. It’s an obvious enough move factoring in the ‘young talent wants to work in the centre’ argument, but it does take a nice new bit of office stock out of the picture before it’s even got into it, as agents continue to tear their hair out at lack of supply. One agent, following the sale of Cavern Walks to Signature Living, said that even though he’d “not crossed the threshold there for 10 years,” the city could still do with the space. Blimey.
Dial M for merger
Manchester’s property gossips had been whispering about further Avison Young overtures, and so it came to pass that GVA was sold to the US heavyweight, with the respective Manchester offices set to merge once regulatory formalities are sorted. With the target company being larger in the city than the buyer, there are echoes of the JLL-King Sturge alliance of 2011, a deal in which people from the KS side seemed to fare rather better in the shake-out. Although the size differential is partly due to GVA having a broader service offering, there does look to be a bit of duplication. Department bosses might be getting some generous Christmas gifts.
Alumno’s plans for a student development at 84 Cambridge Street, Manchester looks like one where some people who never used the Church Inn will bemoan its loss as a pub. Sure, the ex-JW Lees house had a nice exterior, but if this was workable at reasonable pricing, surely some leisure operator would have stuck their hand up? There are literally thousands of students living a stroll away. Ben Kelly and Carson & Co’s design looks at least to add a bit of animation to one of the dreariest streetscapes in the city. As a fan of old pubs, the only time the Church has come to mind in years was when a gang tied up the landlord’s family at gunpoint. Maybe we can let this one go.