Best Of 2020 Pic Collage

Best read stories of 2020

Liverpool’s corruption probe, Kellogg’s 500,000 sq ft St Helens warehouse deal and Stockport’s £1bn metrolink bid all feature as Place North West looks back at the most popular stories of this year.

See below for the best-read stories broken down by month, and then a top 20 round-up for the whole year at the bottom.

Best read stories by month

January

Stockport prepares 1bn Metrolink bid (12,293 page views)

The council and Transport for Greater Manchester started to draw up a business case for the Metrolink extension, set to cost between £500m and £1bn. They said at the time that if funding is granted, a start on site could begin by 2025.

Kelloggs confirms 500,000 sq ft warehouse deal (9,491)

The cereal and snacks giant agreed to take 525,000 sq ft at Bericote’s 525 Haydock, in what was named at the time as the region’s largest speculative industrial unit.

Fresh plans ready for Blackpool Airport (7,669)

Blackpool Council drew up a revised planning application for the first phase of the airport enterprise zone.

Elliot The Residence

The Residence in Salford, which stalled this year

February

Manchester Zoo lines up 100-acre Rochdale home (15,833 page views)

The company was said to be in advanced talks with Rochdale Council take over four parcels of land totalling 100 acres near Hopwood Hall in Middleton, but the plans have since stalled.

Work stops on Elliot’s £70m Salford tower (6,803)

Construction of the 34-storey The Residence halted in the months after the arrest of Elliot Group founder Elliot Lawless, as funders pulled the plug and uncertainty deepened. Lawless was released without charge and his bail was lifted in March.

Plans in for 1,100 homes at Penwortham (6,735)

Taylor Wimpey and Homes England submitted plans for a sizeable residential development on agricultural land in Lancashire. However, Taylor Wimpey has since been forced to redraw the plans, following a council meeting in September.

March

CWAC head of planning passes away (13,543 page views)

Fiona Hore, chief planning officer at Cheshire West & Chester Council, died suddenly at the age of 56.

Construction firms scramble to keep sites open (11,181)

As the UK was plunged into a national lockdown as the coronavirus crisis hit, construction firms were doing their best to keep sites open and put special measures in place to keep staff safe.

Manchester arena unveiled 24,000 capacity expansion (5,772)

Arena operator ASM Global proposed an increase in standing capacity to provide for an additional 3,000 people, leapfrogging rival Oakview Group’s plans for a second stadium in Manchester that would hold 23,500 people

Manchester Arena Redevelopment Entrance

The Hunts Bank ramp is aimed at improving the arena’s sense of arrival

April

We will remember how tenants behaved (14,895 page views)

This comment piece written by a landlord that asked to remain anonymous bemoaned the non-payment of rent by retailers during the UK’s first lockdown and said some tenants’ behaviour could damage relationships with their landlords.

Comment, Blackpool’s £1bn renaissance masterplan (10,667)

The seaside town is the new North West hotspot for business, argued Nick Gerrard, growth and prosperity programme director at Blackpool Council, as he detailed the town’s £1bn+ Growth & Prosperity programme.

CPUK falls into administration (9,120)

The Skelmersdale-based contractor appointed administrators at Duff & Phelps after being unable to find a solution to ongoing financial difficulties.

May

Unilever prepares to put Wirral site on market (11,530 page views)

The consumer goods giant decided to sell part of its Port Sunlight research and development facility. It finally put the site on the market in September.

C&C confirms Stockport mill purchase (8,274)

Developer Capital & Centric completed its acquisition of Stockport’s listed Weir Mill, which it intends to convert into a £60m residential scheme with 250 flats.

Cheshire East explores CPO for Crewe road scheme (7,625)

The council wanted to acquire 56 acres of land to bring forward the North West Crewe package, a £36.5m infrastructure project to open up development sites for 1,350 homes. The compulsory purchase order has since been approved and work is due to start early next year.

Weir Mill Capital & Centric 3

Capital & Centric’s Weir Mill

June

Peel says no impact on group from Intu demise (12,420 page views)

The landowner sold the Trafford Centre to the company now known as Intu Properties in 2011 and remained its largest shareholder. However, it claimed the Intu’s administration would have no bearing on its own financial position.

Alternative HS2 Piccadilly hub ‘could save billions’ (9,972)

Architecture studio Weston Williamson + Partners and consultancy Expedition published designs for a “through station” at Manchester Piccadilly, rather than the existing terminus plans, that would allow services from Birmingham to Manchester to continue towards the North East of England and Leeds.

Essoldo cinema set for Stretford return (7,572)

Community group Spirit of the Essoldo applied to use the fourth level of Stretford Mall’s multistorey car park as a bar and outdoor cinema based on the Art Deco Essoldo cinema, which opened in 1936. Unfortunately, the continued Covid-19 restrictions scuppered the plans.

July

Majdiah pushes ahead with £15m Stockport mill conversion (12,802 page views)

The Saudi developer is converting Stockport’s grade two-listed Meadow Mill close to the Portwood roundabout, into 213 flats and is due to complete next May.

Cracking on Manchester’s construction boom (9,142)

The first in a weekly series in which Place North West toured the city and reported on the construction activity that had been taking place even during the UK lockdown.

Cruden Construction lines up administrators (8,756)

The Cheshire-based firm later appointed KPMG as administrator, after posting an operating loss of £2.2m for the financial year ending 30 September 2018.

HS2 Alternative Piccadilly 2

Weston Williamson + Partners proposal for an underground HS2 through-station at Piccadilly

August

Stockport Pyramid owner plots resi tower (9,603 page views)

Saudi-based Eamar Developments, which bought the distinctive office building for £4.5m last May, lodged plans for an 18-storey residential tower elsewhere in the town, comprising 98 apartments.

Peel to vacate Trafford Centre in HQ shift (8,691)

The group decided to move out of its longstanding headquarters in the Greater Manchester shopping mall after more than two decades and relocate its staff to the Venus building at nearby TraffordCity.

BBC documentary series focusses on Manchester’s city living boom (7,829)

Place North West reported on each episode of the four-part BBC Two series Manctopia: Billion Pound Property Boom, which met the people living and working in the city’s residential development market.

September

Peel eyes shift to food offer in Stockport (11,217 page views)

The developer requested permission from Stockport Council to split a clothing store at the Peel Centre into three units, to diversify the retail park’s offering.

Stockport maps £550m station vision (7,355)

The council and the Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation drew up a 12-year vision to revamp the town’s train station, including a refreshed commercial offering, a public square and reconfigured platform layout.

More than 1bn of Manchester development approved (5,045)

A particularly busy day for the city council’s planning committee – it approved two co-living schemes from Downing and Union Living, Far East Consortium’s 634-home Victoria Riverside, and Engie’s 400 homes in Miles Platting.

Stockport Station

Stockport has plotted a 12-year station redevelopment project

October

Lidl pushes to build in Stockport (10,105 page views)

The discount supermarket retailer lodged plans for a 20,000 sq ft store on Wellington Road North, Heaton Norris, as it continued its expansion strategy.

Construction starts on Cheshire relief road (8,558)

Contractor Graham began work on the long-awaited £53m Poynton Relief Road.

Deloitte to close Liverpool office (6,221)

The firm opted to close its 7,800 sq ft office at Exchange Flags, where it employs 60 staff, in response to changing ways of working accelerated by Covid-19.

November

Liverpool corruption probe rumbles on (10,883 page views)

Merseyside Police was due to attend court to formally request documents from parties connected with Operation Aloft, the corruption investigation related to the sale of council land to developers.

GMSF: Burnham begs Stockport Tories to accept plans (6412)

The Greater Manchester mayor with Stockport Council leader Elise Wilson wrote an open letter to residents imploring them to support the city region development strategy amid opposition from Stockport’s Conservative group.

Crewe primed for 1200 homes (6,411)

Two major housing schemes were expected to advance on the back of Cheshire East’s £36.5m highways expansion project north-west of Crewe.

December

Manchester pushes for underground HS2 hub (6,088)

The city council called for an underground HS2 station at Manchester Piccadilly and the removal of the nearby Gateway House office block, in its response to the Government’s latest consultation on High Speed Two.

Cheshire East hires consultants for towns overhaul (5,981)

A team comprising Cushman & Wakefield, Mott Macdonald and Optimised Environments is producing regeneration proposals for nine centres across the borough, including Wilmslow, Middlewich and Knutsford.

Hunt for Trafford Centre buyer narrows (5,400)

One of the collapsed mall owner Intu Properties’ biggest creditors, Canada’s CPP Investments, was close to agreeing an £800m deal to take over the Greater Manchester shopping centre. The deal was confirmed the following week.

Middlewich Town Centre

Middlewich is one of the towns that Cheshire East is looking to regenerate

Best read stories of 2020

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