Ryder at the gates of dawn
Say what you like about Peel, it’s not a business to do things by halves. Just one of the many mega-projects the Whittaker empire’s currently engaged in is Hulton Park, a historic estate in Bolton that Peel fancies turning into a Ryder Cup golf venue – well, why not? With a fierce residents’ group ramping up the pressure, John Whittaker himself issued a rare ‘hearts and minds’ public address, possibly for the first time since he did battle with Sir Howard Bernstein over that congestion charge silliness in 2008. Who’d be a local planner, eh?
Earning their spurs
Many a train traveller will have glanced at the Hotspur Press building in Manchester and thought “why’s nothing been done with that?” Well, with whopping student towers sprouting up all around it, and a little thing called First Street happening around the corner, owner MCR is finally kicking things off, along with partner Blue Dog Property. Early signs are encouraging, with talk of redevelopment, clearing out sheds and using railway arches for leisure. Just how many funky craft ale, street food type pitches can the city support? We may be about to find out.
Hey you, up in the sky
The move of Stobart Rail’s staff into the new Carlisle Lake District Airport terminal wasn’t the largest or most surprising deal of the month, given that Stobart Group owns the place, but did offer a reminder that the region’s about to get another “proper” airport. Provincial airports have been in the doldrums, with several – Blackpool, Sheffield, Plymouth – closing in the last decade. All of those were close to major rivals though, and none had a selling point like the Lakes. Stobart’s quietly made a success of Southend, reaching one million passengers a year inside six years. This one – sorry – might fly.
Having a CWAC at retail
Cheshire West & Chester has again showed its readiness to intervene in its town centres, buying the Winsford Cross shopping centre to facilitate plans for the town. CWAC also this month triggered consultation on Weaver Square in Northwich, which it bought in 2014, and set some cash aside to give Baron’s Quay a shot in the arm. The struggling retail scheme will certainly be in the limelight in May, hosting lots of festival-type stuff associated with a series of hometown gigs at the Memorial Court by the Charlatans. Hope the sun shines.
North by North Western
Another month, another cool Liverpool hotel story. Following the news that the tower part of the Echo building is to become an Innside by Melia hotel, February saw the announcement that Alfred Waterhouse’s wonderful North Western Hall on Lime Street is to be returned to its original use. Owner Worthington Group has instructed Jenics to find an operator, at which point, presumably, the students will be booted out and nice things will happen. No pressure, guys, but this is one a lot of people want to see work.
Have I got Muse for you
Wirral Council has selected Muse as the preferred developer of its £1bn waterfront regeneration plan, and such a pragmatic business is as good a choice as any, but the challenge is hefty, taking in 11 sites in Birkenhead, Bromborough, Bebington, Moreton and Wallasey. It’s not hard to see the planned 312,000 sq ft of industrial going well, but 334,000 sq ft of grade A offices might be a trickier sell – let’s not forget St Paul’s Square in Liverpool took nearly a decade to fill up. Still, there’s always the public sector and, who knows, maybe a call centre operator would be interested…