Month In Property September 2018 Header
Left to right: Echo Street, Arundel Street, Swan Street

Month in property | September

Neil Tague

Tall tales

As tower proposals keep coming forward in Manchester, so the debate about locations continues. Most people seem to accept that going tall is the way things are going to be, but only in certain areas, and that that should be adhered to – but tall stuff keeps coming forward just about anywhere. The Echo Street proposals have dismayed many, plonking three towers amid some nice mid-scale Modernist stuff and overlooking the London Road fire station. Logik’s Arundel Street scheme deadlocked September’s planning committee – it’s close to the Great Jackson Street cluster, but also to Castlefield’s heritage areas. Similarly, the 30-storey whopper proposed by a McAlpine-led JV at Swan Street – next to NOMA, but also the low-rise Northern Quarter fringe. Time for a clear tall buildings policy, as Liverpool is currently looking at?

Junkyard Golf, Oxford

Junk in the trunk

Energetic bar operator Lyndon Higginson is at it again, rolling out Junkyard Golf Club to Liverpool ONE, having already taken the Crazy Pedro’s pizza and mescal operation from Manchester to the city’s Ropewalks area. Higginson’s Manchester successes have come with clustering – Cane & Grain, The Bay Horse and Pedro’s in the Northern Quarter, bars around Bridge Street, two things at First Street. If William Hill’s are offering odds, it might be worth sticking a few quid on another of Higginson’s ventures popping up in the Ropewalks – there might even be a few developers looking for his number to get those ground floors filled.

Andrew Western

Western approaches

Good to hear some thoughts from Andrew Western, installed in May as Trafford Council’s first Labour leader since Wayne Rooney became a star. The Stretford masterplan is interesting, but so too are the thoughts for actual placemaking in Old Trafford – anything that helps some of the matchday spenders linger and spend cash locally – and lessen the Metrolink queues a bit – has to be worth a look. Trafford’s also amid a scrabble to find student bed space ahead of UA92’s opening, a situation in which it isn’t exactly operating from a position of strength – still, as it has said, it’s only covering this off for three years while private operators get plans together. Quickly now, guys!

Anfield August 2018

Everybody needs good neighbours

Liverpool FC has secured consent to host concerts, boxing and stuff in the summer for a trial period of two years. Having received a stiff-armed jab by August’s committee, the club made concessions, dropping from 10 events to six, pledging a community liaison officer, warning punters to behave themselves. Some might think this a bit rich, given the club’s recent history, albeit under different owners, includes some unedifying buying up and ‘tinning up’ housing, blighting the area and oiling the wheels of Anfield’s expansion. Some may even recall the unseemly tussle with the Mason sisters to build the Centenary Stand. The city as a whole clearly benefits from LFC’s global appeal, but the poor saps on the doorstep might feel differently.

Danny Fox

What’s cooking?

One could never accuse Select Property Group of standing still, and the developer behind Vita, CitySuites and Affinity Living has appointed an in-house F&B head, ex-Living Ventures and Individual Restaurant Company man Danny Fox. It makes a lot of sense really, meaning the firm can offer something different to the mainstream, but with control over quality, and it’s something others might look at. Of course, one might say it never harms a developer to ally themselves with hospitality’s leading lights – Allied London has forged a nice bond with Living Ventures, for one – but this might signify a shift in thinking.

Salboy Shudehill September 2018

Demolition men

“Kneejerk heritage fanboys” might sound like a Fall song that never was, but might equally describe those in Manchester who take to social media to profess their love of places they never actually use. This phenomenon usually centres on old pubs, but popped up its head last month when the city council issued a demolition notice on 5 Back Turner Street, surveyors working for developer Salboy having declared the building unsafe to even enter – cue the predictable ‘tearing the city apart for cash!’ hysteria. But the building, and five neighbours, would have gone anyway had Salboy’s proposed 13-storey Zoku aparthotel won planning, but that proposal only really got a kicking for its height. There are genuine heritage assets that need fighting for, so railing against everything that happens helps nobody.

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Demolition Men — I agree, demolish the old and ugly (except me). But also, to me, that site seems too narrow for a building anyway, blocking light from neighboring windows and street too narrow to be of any real use — but a perfect site for a wide footpath, some trees, a cycle path, and a small park with benches and flowerbeds. You may say I’m a dreamer, but …

By James Hayes