Cheshire development update

Cheshire Development Update | Summary, slides + photos

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Cheshire boasts one of the most successful economies in the country but needs to address challenges around housing and infrastructure if it is to meet ambitious targets for the future, according to a panel of experts.

More than 220 delegates attended Place North West’s Cheshire Development Update at The Queen Hotel in Chester, sponsored by Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, HOW Planning, and Pochin’s.

See below for slides + gallery

National success story

Philip Cox, chief executive of Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, opened the event saying the LEP was focused on creating “an environment where the private sector can thrive,” and delivering the transport infrastructure, skills and housing that businesses needed. He told delegates:

  • Cheshire’s economy is a “national success story,” outperforming the likes of Surrey and Kent
  • The LEP has refreshed its Strategic Economic Plan and set ambitious targets to double the size of the economy to £50bn by 2040, creating 120,000 new jobs and building 127,000 homes
  • Investing in facilities and housing that will transform Cheshire’s town centres into places where young people wanted to live and work is key to the region’s future growth
  • Too many 18-35 year olds are “leaving and not coming back” to the region, Cox adding that the situation was “not sustainable”
  • The LEP is prepared to borrow against £200m of future business rates from its Cheshire Science Corridor to bring forward investment in infrastructure

Development programmes

A panel discussion followed, when Cox was joined by Andy Farrall, executive director for environment and regeneration at Warrington Council; Andrew Round, director of growth and regeneration at Cheshire East Council; and Graham Pink, director of commissioning places and commercial management at Cheshire West & Chester Council, to talk about the region’s major development programmes.

  • Cheshire East is getting “HS2 ready” with the consultation on the Crewe station masterplan underway this year, according to Round
  • Round added that £70m of investment is planned for Crewe town centre, including the £48.3m Royal Arcade redevelopment with Cordwell Property Group and Peveril Securities
  • The “new city” programme of work will be Warrington’s priority for the next 25 years, according to Farrall
  • Farrall said Warrington is “playing catch up” with its infrastructure investment, with £77m of infrastructure work ongoing and “more on the way”
  • Pink said Chester’s long-awaited £300m Northgate development is “getting more real by the day,” with a public inquiry into the CPO of 70 properties expected to begin in early 2018
  • Towns in Cheshire West need to improve how they sell themselves to retailers, according to Pink, who pointed to the Baron’s Quay development in Northwich as an example of what could be achieved
  • Farrall added that the success of Warrington’s Omega development is continuing, with negotiations underway on the last industrial plot, while the first phase of residential development with Miller Homes has seen around 250 properties sold off-plan

Rising house prices

Gary Halman, managing partner at HOW Planning talked to delegates about the region’s housing challenge, saying:

  • Rising house prices are making it harder to retain younger workers in the region, with average house prices more than seven times higher than average earnings in Cheshire East and Cheshire West, and around six and a half times higher in Warrington
  • He added that HOW has secured planning for 21 keyworker homes in the greenbelt at the Alderley Park development for life science staff on low wages
  • It is “business as usual” in Cheshire East despite a legal challenge from Muller Property on its Local Plan. He advised the Plan would continue to apply to planning applications until the legal proceedings were concluded
  • Warrington’s Local Plan will “turbocharge growth” and “support the transition from a new town to a new city” with significant areas of Green Belt allocated for housing development
  • The community infrastructure levy is increasing the costs of housing schemes and will drive down land values. He said the CIL is being used by councils to encourage housebuilding in lower value areas
  • Cheshire East expects the new charges to be in place by March 2018, which could add up to £275,000 per acre to the cost of housing developments in some areas

Buoyant office and industrial markets

Pochin’s director Bob Nicholson said a lack of stock and rising rents are the big issues facing the office and industrial market in Cheshire, telling delegates:

  • The office market is “buoyant” but occupier-driven with all schemes coming to site pre-let or pre-sold. Debt finance for speculative office developments is increasingly difficult to access limiting supply and driving up rents
  • Pochin’s is delivering 66,000 sq ft of offices on Crewe Business Park for Radius Payment Solutions
  • The Radius development will take the 67-acre retail park to 99% capacity, highlighting the lack of options for firms looking for office space in the region
  • The region’s industrial market is strong with Pochin’s looking at accessing funding for 200,000 sq ft of speculative development through its joint venture with DB Symmetry on the MA6NITUDE business park in Middlewich
  • However, the current supply of commercial space is at its lowest levels in 20 years, with infrastructure the biggest challenge in bringing forward new developments
  • He added that local authorities need to work closely with the private sector to unlock sites that are held up while waiting for infrastructure investment

More office space

Nicholson and Halman were joined by Phil Mayall, development director at Muse Developments; Alderley Park’s head of development Nick Hynes; and Will Sadler, head of office agency at Legat Owen, for the final panel discussion.

  • Mayall said partnerships between the public and private sector are key in sharing risk for delivering more speculative office developments in Cheshire, and tackling a major shortage of suitable accommodation that could force businesses out of the region
  • Plans for the next phase of Muse’s City Place development in Chester are likely to include a hotel, improved car parking and cycle paths as well as more office space, Mayall added
  • The decision to allow the conversion of office space to residential has caused a significant loss of stock in Chester, according to Sadler
  • He added that rents are rising from £15/sq ft to £20/sq ft and that modern developments are needed to retain large employers looking for space
  • Sadler estimated up to 300,000 sq ft of the 2.7m sq ft of available space in and around the city centre has been converted to flats
  • Hynes provided an update on Alderley Park’s 400-acre mixed-use development, saying 20 planning applications have been submitted so far for the site, with “20 more in the pipeline”
  • Planning applications to rebuild the sports facilities on the North side of the site and the addition of a pub, farm shop and hotel rooms at the listed part of the site, are due to be submitted this month, with around 200,000 sq ft of offices estimated to be filled
  • Hynes added that five parcels of land had been allocated for housing developments to PH Homes and PJ Livesey, with a further 50-home plot set to go to a “national developer”

View the slides from the presentations using the below links:

Philip Cox, Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership

Gary Halman, HOW Planning

Bob Nicholson, Pochin’s

Click any image below to launch gallery


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Am sorry but re: Development Programmes

First of all Northwich is located in Mid-Cheshire NOT CHESHIRE WEST as that is the name of the council not the district.

Second The Barons Quay development is not a shinning example of how to do a development programme as it has been a total disaster to the people of Northwich! even now out of 28 units we have one filled honestly one!

The forced marriage of Vale Royal council joining with Chester council and ellsmere point council against the towns and peoples wishes has also been a disaster.

We said no to one way system. and it was forced apon us – now we have massive traffic jams

We said no to another supermarket in the town centre.
now we have six supermarkets in less than a square mile!

Now Cheshire west are implementing parking charges against the people’s wishes and something Vale Royal council promised never would happen! Cheshire west have railroaded it in!

The people of Northwich are truly at the limit with this council!

Please can we move into Cheshire East

By Northwich

surely the prices of houses will plummet when Warrington becomes a concrete jungle at a stand still with no green spaces to enjoy. these proposals are ludicrous.


Crikey! This looks like a jolly do !!

By John

Northwich success rather depends on your perspective….

The Barons Quay development has let its major units, provided much improved car parking and public realm improvements, addressing a derelict site and opening access to the river frontage.
It has produced one of the most popular cinemas in the North West and avoided edge of town development of additional food retailing options. Since the phased opening started, footfall in Northwich has grown significantly more than other areas of the North West.

The jury is still out on what bits of Northwich’s redevelopment will work. The Memorial Hall, cinema and Chesterway roundabout rebuilds have been huge successes… Other areas are yet to prove themselves.
Nobody should take the views of a few noisy locals as indication of the success or failure of Baron’s Quay. Construction isn’t due to complete until November 2017, and whilst more letting is needed; it is somewhat premature to judge the project yet.

By HappyCat