Hot on the heels of settling on its Manchester HQ, telecoms giant BT shortlisted three locations in Liverpool for its next 100,000 sq ft hub. No prizes for guessing where as, at least currently, there’s not many buildings big enough to hold them, with Pall Mall, Liverpool Waters, and Knowledge Quarter in the running. Timely for Pall Mall as this month also saw the £200m project gain planning consent; meanwhile the Knowledge Quarter upped its game as a serious contender, working up a 200,000 sq ft extension to its masterplan and revising proposals for No5 Paddington Village to include larger floorplates to charm bigger occupiers. All this to a backdrop of the council signing off the regeneration framework for the Commercial Business District, with a “desperate need” to deliver 2m sq ft more offices, andit looks like it’s about to be a busy 2020 for the city’s office agents.
The first teaser of the much-trailed arena at Manchester’s Etihad Campus was revealed this month with developer Oakview giving the first hints at its £300m show-stopper at a public consultation. Although at this stage design are sketchy to say the least, we know where it’ll be, what it’ll do, and how it fits in to the wider campus. A mixed response, though, sounds about right so far – Manchester Arena operator SMG is obviously not happy with its vice-president calling the plan “absolutely crazy” and “purely opportunistic”. But Oakview seems to make a fair point – if cities like Birmingham and London can have two arenas, why can’t Manchester? And why can’t the city be ambitious enough to pitch itself against Europe’s biggest cities to attract gigs, tours, shows and much more? Expect more details to emerge in the New Year, but for now, we’ll wait and see what the feasibility study says.
Sharing a shoebox
Co-living. What’s it all about? Is it student digs? Shared flats? Shoebox-style apartments? Well, yes and no, but developers seem to get it. We had not one but two big schemes come forward in Manchester City Centre, the biggest being Downing’s plans at First Street, including a rather mind-boggling 2,204 beds and a 44-storey tower. This followed hot on the heels of another proposal by Vita at the rebranded Nickel and Dime site at St Johns, and that’s not forgetting Progressive Living’s plans in Greengate, revealed last month. However, if you wanted a bit more clarity of what co-living is really about, then these proposals probably didn’t help: Downing’s project and Vita’s are radically different, with the former focussing on much smaller studio spaces – some coming in at around 166 sq ft – while the latter is larger, more luxury pitch. It looks like there’s plenty of appetite for co-living if developers are cracking on with getting plans submitted, and there’s variety too – watch out for a few more proposals coming forward in the coming months.
The long-awaited Picturedrome Macclesfield threw open its doors this month, the latest venture by Nick Johnson’s wildly-successful – and now much-imitated – Market Operations. Following Altrincham and Mackie Mayor, the food hall was full within hours of opening up, and shows the wider potential of Macc as a place. There are plenty of parallels with Altrincham not long ago; that wealthy catchment of people that traditionally bypassed the town centre to head elsewhere have now been brought into Altrincham, and there’s no reason Macclesfield can’t now lure those monied Bollingtonians and Pott Shrigleyites into the centre. Cheshire East seems to get it, too: the council also signed off a wide-ranging masterplan this month, with an immediate focus on sorting out public realm to drive footfall. We’ve heard of plenty of places being dubbed “the next Alty” a bit prematurely, but it looks like Macc is really staking a good claim.
Time for towers
Prolific developer Renaker shows no sign of slowing; just as its Deansgate Square towers in Manchester look close to completion, a wave of skyscrapers at Salford’s Greengate is now on the cards. Renaker is targeting November to submit a hybrid planning application for three towers of between 41 and 50 storeys at Greengate, alongside a much-called for park. The residential scheme, designed by OMI, could bring more than 1,500 flats to a part of the city still dominated by car parks. Its work around the Chester Road roundabout is far from done though, as October saw news of a £123m development loan from Maslow Capital, to fund the 52-storey Elizabeth Tower on site at Crown Street, neighbouring Deansgate Square. Phew…