Market up to experience
A kerfuffle in Stockport, where the council selected Steve Pilling, who once ran Manchester’s Chop Houses and has since opened several decent things locally, to run what it’s hoped will become a food and drink destination at the Produce Hall and 28-29 Market Place. There was a local groundswell behind the operators of Foodie Friday, a cracking monthly street food event, but the demands here are tougher and the decision understandable. From the reaction of some, you’d think the council had chosen a kebab house/brothel combo. Surely more opportunities await, and it’s best for everyone to play nicely.
Mersey Mersey me
The lesser spotted Catalyst Fund, set up in 2016 by the Merseyside Pension Fund, has made its first investment, backing a block of 120 flats by Iliad in the Ropewalks. Novel. Iliad is capable enough of course, but no part of this makes one think “ooh, that’s interesting, a bit different” and to mention family housing in that area, as Iliad did, seems a bit odd, at best. Hey, maybe the pressure’s on to find something backable – do developers even know the fund exists? Maybe if it was managed a bit closer than London, that might help.
Monthly Cheshire East update
Here we go again. Readers might recall that Cheshire East’s long-awaited Local Plan has been challenged over the use of faulty data. Now a planning inspector, presumably while wincing, has now suggested that with some schemes taking longer to get on-site, CEC might not have a five-year housing supply after all. Action is needed quickly, or appeals will come thick and fast. For all they’ve spent on consultants and lawyers in the last five years, it might have been cheaper for CEC to just build an underground city for new homes – those salt mines have a lovely crisp quality to the air.
Langtree goes to Hollinwood
Nice to see Langtree deliver some healthy financials, hot on the heels of doing the first deal at Hollinwood Junction, Oldham. Raised eyebrows at the quote: “We promised early progress and that’s what we delivered” though. The Roxy cinema was demolished in early 2007 and Langtree originally selected in October of that year. Following the recession, 2011 saw some bright spark suggest a leisure scheme – essentially the scheme that ended up at the Town Hall, before the latest attempt was consented this year. Well, it was always described as a 10-15 year job…
Fleet of foot
Overseas money popping up in unexpected locations might worry some, but Wyre Dock Development is hoping that the charms of Fleetwood will tempt in some Chinese cash. It has proposed a dock overhaul, with visitor attractions featuring China heavily. Before anyone scoffs, consider that China Machinery Engineering Corporation has just signed a deal to progress a gas-fired power station at Hillhouse close by. Ten years ago, some thought a supercasino was the future for the Fylde coast. Times change.
Money, money, money
So there’s been a Budget, an Industrial Strategy, and a rail strategy. Wading through Government announcements to see if promised cash is “new” is always a bit like Alan Partridge’s Mini Metro review – “they’ve rebadged it you fool!” – and there’s not a whole lot of cast-iron guarantees for the region. That said, the Qiagen diagnostics campus is a big plus, and Transpennine rail does seems to have re-ascended the pecking order. Just don’t forget the platforms needed to make the Ordsall Chord worthwhile.