Neil Tague

Neil Tague: Behind the numbers

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Bring up the Boddies

60 The number of breweries in the UK, as cited in a Manchester City Council 'report for resolution' on the Boddingtons site in 2007. Noting that this total had been 140 in 1979, the council said "Consolidation and modernisation of production capability of the industry has meant that the site is extremely unlikely to attract a brewery".

1,285 Breweries operational in the UK according to CAMRA in September 2014, the largest number since the 1940s and a figure expanding at 10% a year.

Yes, most of these are microbreweries, but did Manchester miss an opportunity to trade on the genuinely iconic Boddies name? It might not be too late, micros would surely love to work in this space, alongside other users – have a look at the old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London, thriving with events and "pop-up" stuff. Why, the site here could even include a 'Gorgeous Tonight' burger joint…

Brewing up regeneration

Boddingtons isn't the only North West brewery site with the potential for redevelopment – Thwaites' Blackburn site is in play after the brewer confirmed its move in 2014. But what can be learned from repurposing breweries across the region down the years?

2014 – Plans are approved for the £150m, 1m sq ft Cains Brewery Village in Liverpool, to include a craft brewery, apartments, a boutique hotel, market and cinema. Construction will start within a year, it's said, although operators need to be signed up.

2001 – The Greenalls brewery site in Warrington is declared a conservation area. Bruntwood is the landlord of the period office space created in the old brewery buildings.

1999 – Whitbread closes the Threlfalls brewery site in Cook Street, Salford, which becomes the Deva Business Centre, a thriving 83,500 sq ft business village sold for £10.4m in 2011. The Trueman Street site in Liverpool was closed in the early 1980s. Threlfalls was the North West's biggest brewer in the late '60s.

1987 – Wilsons Brewery closes in Newton Heath, Manchester, with production of the brand ending in 1998. The site now houses business units, including that of Boggart Brewery.

1972 – Vaux, which had bought the site from Whitwell, Mark & Co in 1946, closes its brewery site in Kendal, which becomes the Brewery Arts Centre. Offices are relocated, the townhouse becomes a youth hostel. There's nothing new in regeneration, you see.

Art of the matter

Kendal's not alone in mashing up (sorry) brewing and art – Boddies hosted the first Warehouse Project events way back in 2006. But central Manchester's arty focus will be at the opposite end of Deansgate, as the Chancellor's Autumn Statement revealed – the new Factory theatre – and it's an eye-wateringly large sum of money being handed out by central government.

£78m – cost of The Factory, a new "ultra-flexible" arts space in Manchester's St John's Quarter. This will be the permanent anchor venue for the Manchester International Festival.

£15m – spending on The Whitworth extension, with £8m coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Due to re-open in February.

£25m – spent on Home, replacing the Cornerhouse and Library Theatre, with £5.5m from Arts Council England,

£28m – redevelopment of Liverpool's Everyman Theatre: £16.8m from Arts Council England, £2.5m Northwest Regional Development Agency, £5.9m from the European Regional Development Fund

£9m – plans went in for a new home for Oldham Coliseum Theatre and adjacent Heritage Centre in December 2014. A second round bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for around £4m will follow, while a £5m bid to Arts Council England was made in 2014.

£3.2m – restoration of Stockport Plaza in 2009-2012, with £1.9m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Sitting comfortably?

We've all heard the talk from designers and workplace consultants on where trends are going – less desks, less formality, more technology. But as some numbers from Steelcase Solutions show, things might be changing faster than you imagine.

90% of workstations sold in 2014 as collaboration-friendly "bench systems," rather than standard individual desks with their fusty old sense of permanence.

25% – increase in the sale of higher end so-called 'task chairs', including the top of the range Gesture chair, between 2012 and 2014. Sales of high end seating now account for 20% of the total

50:50 – the split, on a recent contract to supply a financial services firm in the north, between soft furnishings and desks and chairs. The average workplace is reducing task chairs and desking by 25%.

Bankers on beanbags, say it ain't so! Fifty-fifty's quite staggering really – as many sofas, thinkpods and breakout space as desks. In a funky digital agency, maybe, but in the hard-nosed world of finance? Well, I never.

The Italian job

A little late Christmas present for Manchester's office agents here. Occupiers being a social bunch nowadays don't just want to know how far from Marks & Sparks their new office is, but how close they are to the buzziest places to eat and drink, San Carlo in King Street West being the most obvious. Agents escorting punters round any of Manchester's next wave of office buildings need look no further.

557 paces – 101 Embankment

457 paces – One New Bailey

520 paces – No. 1 Spinningfields

412 paces – The Cotton Building, Spinngfields

1,302 paces – First Street. However, this site – memorably once described as "mid-urban" by an ex-Ask director – is a mere 703 steps to the new San Carlo Fumo at One St Peter's Square. And to tenants of that shiny new building, the restaurant is but one lift journey away.

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