Birchwood Park Cheshire Science Corridor
Birchwood Park is a cluster of businesses and research facilities

Cheshire & Warrington launches £20m property fund

Sarah Townsend

The local enterprise partnership has appointed CBRE to manage a fund to invest in low-carbon building improvements and R&D schemes in the area.

The money will be used to provide development loans or investment capital to businesses based in Cheshire and Warrington.

The Evergreen Urban Development Fund has been seeded with an initial £20m grant from the European Regional Development Fund, to be invested by the end of 2023.

The capital would be reinvested over the ensuing 10 years, to create a fund valued at around £60m, according to the Cheshire & Warrington LEP.

The economic development body was reported last October to be searching for a fund manager to deliver a £20m investment fund. Under an announcement due to take place at an event at Mottram Hall this afternoon, the new fund will be managed by CBRE’s investment advisory team, part of CBRE Capital Advisors.

The geographical area overseen by the Cheshire & Warrington LEP has previously been able to benefit from an existing North West evergreen fund managed by CBRE, which covers the Greater Manchester sub-region. The property consultancy also manages an equivalent fund for projects in Cumbria and Lancashire.

The two funds have helped catalyse more than £500m of regional development, according to CBRE, with Muse Developments’ 70,000 sq ft One City Place office scheme in Chester one notable example.

The new Cheshire and Warrington fund is intended as a “bolt-on” facility that “will complement the two established North West Evergreen Funds…with wide-reaching socioeconomic benefits”, the LEP said.

In particular, the initiative is expected to help bring forward development sites that have stalled due to lack of finance. It will also be used to provide funding to either retrofit buildings with low-carbon technologies, or for low-carbon technologies such as solar panels, insulation and LED lighting to be installed on new builds.

It excludes residential property and retail schemes and is targeted towards laboratory, technical and other research & development facilities, local examples of which include Peel Environmental’s Protos scheme at Ellesmere Port and Birchwood Park in the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone.

Specific examples of projects that stand to benefit from the fund have yet to be confirmed.

Will Church, senior director of investment advisory at CBRE, said: “There has been a long-term lack of debt for developers in the region.

“We have supplemented this to some extent with the original Evergreen Fund but this complementary fund, specifically for Cheshire and Warrington, will add to the support of economic growth we have been able to bring to the region in the last eight years.”

The investment will be broken down as follows:

  • £8m to fund low-carbon and other energy efficiency iprovements to existing properties
  • £7m to boost research and innovation capabilities at new labs and technical spaces
  • £5m towards business support for SMEs to help them scale up

Philip Cox, chief executive of the Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said: “This fund is a strong fit with our Strategic Economic Plan and emerging Local Industrial Strategy, and will help place Cheshire and Warrington at the forefront of clean growth and the [drive to] decarbonise the northern economy.”

 

Philip Cox LEP

Cox is the chair of the LEP

 

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