Four on the floor
Who is really leading the pack for Channel 4’s big relocation? Liverpool has launched the serious phase of its bid, and full credit for not overdoing the Brookside angle – April had already seen the Beatles Quarter SRF hit the council agenda after all. With the Capital & Centric scheme at the old Littlewoods HQ to the fore, Liverpool’s story is good, while MediaCity’s surely got a stronger case than most. Like all the northern bidders it should talk up being in the middle of the whole UK, not just England. Andy Street, the rarely understated West Midlands mayor, has been going on and on about why Birmingham’s the favourite for months, without really convincing anyone. Brum’s just London North isn’t it, especially in the HS2 age? Pipe down, Andy. Make do with one of the ‘news hubs’.
Short and stocky
Some of it seems popular, some of it less so, but there’s no denying Stockport’s getting on the front foot with housing. A brownfield-first focus has seen town centre sites with enough capacity for 3,000 homes identified, including land around the station and bus depot. Urbanize Homes meanwhile has submitted plans for a 22-storey tower, accompanied by images that weren’t, shall we say, received with universal warmth by Place readers. With its connectivity, there’s as strong a sell for town centre development in Stockport than in any Greater Manchester borough – the age-old issue is making the town centre more appealing to young trendy types from the wealthy bits of the borough.
Bank on it
The news that RBS is to leave its Deansgate-fronting 1 Spinningfields Square should come as no surprise really, with the bank having slimmed down significantly since all that global recession unpleasantness. It was easy enough for Allied London’s Mike Ingall to chirpily describe the situation as a ‘win-win’ now that it’s no longer Allied’s job to fill the 150,000 sq ft hole, but in all honesty, owner M&G shouldn’t struggle. The market needs decent stock and this location, for all the talk about the city core expanding to all points of the compass, is still hard to beat.
Some kind of pinnacle
The drawn-out woes of Pinnacle continued, with two further businesses associated with the developer going into administration this month. A row then kicked off over whether planning has lapsed at Angelgate, which is probably now immaterial as the administrators have auctioned it off quick-sharp, with Far East Consortium, not unpredictably, snapping the site up. As far as those responsible for leaving investors high and dry are concerned… if you’ve ever wondered, when one’s name can be freely prefaced with “convicted conman,” where one might be able to turn as a career move, the answer seems, rather depressingly, to be property development.
Central heating up
Warrington’s been the top economic performer in the region for ages, with its employment levels, wage levels and so on helped by not having the large ‘problem areas’ Manchester and Liverpool have, but its centre has yet to become a “destination”. There’s shops and pubs of course, but well… you know when marketers talk up things as “vibrant”? That’s not happened. But there are signs now, the council is pushing ahead with Stadium Quarter offices, and two developers have this month gone for a combined 500 flats in two key sites. The stretch between Warrington Central station and the Halliwell Jones stadium is crying out for development, and by now there’s no reason the town centre can’t win office occupiers. An upturn in leisure will surely follow.
Bentley’s change of tack at its Crewe megalopolis is an interesting one. The car maker, big on its Brit credentials but ultimately German-owned, had a 252,000 sq ft consent from 2016 for an Engineering Technical Centre, which it has replaced this month with two office blocks totalling 150,000 sq ft. No one seems to be ringing alarm bells or anything, but let’s face it, ‘offices’ sounds a lot more flexible than ‘engineering technical centre’ and with the month bringing worrying news from Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover about their UK plans, a few engineers might be checking out Amazon for German phrasebooks. It’s almost as if major international manufacturers are being given no idea as to what the UK government is going to do.