Blackpool rolls the dice
It was early 2007, several Prime Ministers ago, when Blackpool lost the supercasino bid and everyone seemed to forget about the town’s 17-acre site behind Coral Island. It’s re-emerged this month with a bang, Blackpool and partner Nikal proposing a £300m leisure-led development. This includes a VR entertainment zone, indoor family entertainment, the inevitable food hall and the UK’s “first flying theatre”, an indoor immersive experience with surround sound and effects including wind, fog and water, which must be hard to come by locally. Good luck to all, but regeneration’s tough and given the time Nikal has taken with Altair and Blackpool with Talbot Gateway, is anyone expecting much very quickly?
Local authorities continue to sink money into buying property, with Rochdale digging deep to buy Central Retail Park, near its railway station. The council has talked of the residential appeal of the site, while it’s not hard to imagine existing tenants getting a “fancy a unit at our shiny new town centre retail scheme?’ call. Warrington, never shy of chucking cash at property, bought the old TalkTalk call centre just outside Birchwood Park’s boundary, raising a few eyebrows among investment market watchers who had it pegged as worth around £11m rather than the £13m paid. Still, it’s only public money.
I like the way you work it
You can’t keep those chirpy WeWork guys out of the headlines. With its existing Manchester spaces pretty much full to bursting, the co-working operator is very much in the market for more. Seemingly nailed on is the ever-so-slightly delayed Hyphen on Mosley Street, while the whole of Dalton Place, a refurb like Hyphen, and a couple of floors of new build 125 Deansgate are also in the running. They’re still hungry too, and in what’s a crowded field, can they establish a Regus-like position while conditions are favourable? Some feel SMEs wanting “normal” space are being squeezed – one architect firm declared in November “there is NOTHING in the city centre”. All about demand innit.
What a year for Wirral Waters! Sort of. The Peel super-scheme was bigged up at MIPIM, with announcements and sort-of announcements – Harlex weren’t actually ready to go public on their deal – about impending development, and planning applications have gone in for a big chunk of residential at East Float Dock. A cynic might say that this really is the bare minimum of what might have been expected by now – the first applications were supposed to be lodged within five years of outline consent in 2012, but time was bought with some bureaucratic fleet-footedness. A big question is how one makes trendy waterside living more appealing to well-heeled Wirralites in Birkenhead than it is over the water. Not sure the pitch is strong enough yet.
Going for golf
The odds look to be tilting against Hoylake housing a £200m Jack Nicklaus golf resort, to the disappointment of those who get excited by hopeful headlines around this sort of thing. Council leader Phil Davies insists the project is still a goer, but he’s on his way out at the May elections and two other councillors have declared publicly the plans should be ditched. The council has already said it won’t commit any more money, while Story Homes quietly walked away from the housing element. If it’s to happen – and let’s not judge whether or not it should – it needs a new champion, and it’s not easy to see where that might come from, unless Celtic Manor can be persuaded to do all the heavy lifting.