Network Rail picks up Crewe asset

Cariad Developments has sold a former Total Fitness gym and an office building to the transport organisation, which is currently amid a hunt for a national HQ.

The 15,838 sq ft office building is known as Mannin House and is already occupied by Network Rail.

Cariad, a privately-owned Chester property company, acquired the Macon Way site in early 2020 as a medium-term development opportunity. The company’s plans were altered when the gym group, hit by the Covid pandemic, closed the site last year, leaving two-thirds of the six-acre site redundant.

The sale price was undisclosed, although prior to Cariad’s ownership it had been marketed at close to £2.9m.

Matthew Pochin, director at Legat Owen, acted for Cariad along with Hatrick. He said: “This was not the easiest transaction to bring to a conclusion mainly due to the competitive market place for opportunities of this nature.

“However, seeing Crewe as a key location for the business and ultimately the railway sector, Network Rail ultimately came forward with a strong offer and moved from agreement to completion within five working days.”

The move is sure to raise eyebrows, with Cheshire East Council having two weeks ago submitted a bid to make Crewe the home of the new Great British Railways.

GBR will effectively replace Network Rail as operator of the nation’s rail infrastructure, and also take on the Department for Transport’s contracting of train operations and timetabling.

A shortlist is to be announced in May, and Crewe’s promoters will champion its alignment with several criteria, including railway heritage, the levelling-up agenda, value for money and connectivity.

The floorplate requirement will not be large, but a pre-existing, publicly-owned building will be preferred, according to the DfT.

Even if the GBR bid fails, assembling local assets by one rail organisation or another may be useful as the HS2 project continues.

Guy Cooke of BNP Paribas Real Estate, which is retained nationwide by Network Rail, said: “This strategic acquisition will facilitate yet further investment by Network Rail at this site and within the wider Crewe area in the coming years.”

Your Comments

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That’s a great location for when HS2 reaches Crewe, its also maybe useful during the reconstruction of the station.

By Rich X

Doesn’t tale a rocket scientist does it. Why waste everyone else time in a ‘national hunt’ for a Rail HQ…
Stretched public time and money wasted on competitive bidding (or non-competitive may be a better description).

By Cynic

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