Neil Tague: Behind the numbers

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The learning of Liverpool

Student accommodation is increasingly dominated by large city centre blocks, where en-suite and wi-fi come as standard, baffling to those of us who recall Young Ones-style hovels.

The Liverpool student market is as hot as any. How have students changed the city centre population?


Students in non-purpose-built units: 2,261

Students in purpose-built units: 10,895

Units under construction, or with planning approved: 2,025


Students in non-purpose-built units: 3,161

Students in purpose-built units: 15,360

Units under construction, or with planning approved: 5,309

There were 2,049 new units delivered in time for the academic year starting September 2014. There are a further 3,077 units due in September 2015

Students are 'in'. Huntsmere's Aura office-residential scheme on Victoria and Crosshall Streets became a Vita Student Living site (related company, different brand) and the Josephine Butler House site is now also destined for learners. This trend isn't slowing – although the total number of students enrolled in Liverpool in September 2013 fell to 50,730 (around 54,000 is the norm), 2,000 units have won consent in the last quarter alone. (all stats from City Residential)

Piccadilly play

Legal & General's acquisition in October of the old Nobles Amusements site in Piccadilly Gardens now home to Travelodge, Nando's and Morrison's Local was its fourth Piccadilly buy in as many years. The yields in that time have moved dramatically.

October 2014 L&G buys 19-31 Piccadilly Gardens for £23.1m, net initial yield 4.84%

July 2014 L&G buys One Piccadilly Gardens for £75m, net initial yield 5.64%

July 2011 L&G buys Malmaison Piccadilly along with sister hotels in Newcastle and Birmingham for a combined £86.8m, net initial yield for portfolio 6.5%

April 2010 L&G buys Royal Buildings, four floors of offices, on the junction of Mosley Street and Piccadilly Gardens for £9.65m, net initial yield 9.93%

L&G is now planning to build up retail and leisure around Tadao Ando's controversial concrete wall in the Gardens.

Stirling vs Carbuncle

Liverpool's Everyman Theatre was a popular and deserved winner of the Stirling Prize for Architecture this year. But the North West hasn't fared too well historically, securing as many places on the shortlist of the dreaded Carbuncle Cup in less than 10 years as on that of the Stirling in almost 20 years.

Stirling Prize (born 1996):


2014 Everyman Theatre (winner)

Manchester School of Art

2009 Liverpool One masterplan

2008 Manchester Civil Justice Centre

2004 Imperial War Museum North

1998 Quay Bar Manchester

1996 Centenary Building, University of Salford (winner)

Carbuncle (born 2006):


2012 Mann Island, Liverpool

2011 MediaCityUK (winner)

Museum of Liverpool

2009 Pier Head Ferry Terminal (Liverpool – winner), One Park West (Liverpool)

2006 BBC Radio Merseyside (Liverpool), St George's Island (Manchester)

Why might this be? Well, the North West has developed more than most regions in the last decade, so there's bound to be some misses with the hits. And I have to say, at least two of those Carbuncle nominations look very harshly judged. Mediacity, for instance – you wouldn't have judged Coventry in 1946 would you?

Tattoo peak

Asset finance has risen to be a key lending type in new ventures in retail and leisure, and according to the Finance & Leasing Association, September 2014 saw a six-year high reached.

£2.5bn – national total for asset finance new business

53% – year-on-year growth for September

Trends? Asset finance house 1pm tells us that recent years have seen soft-play areas and classic-style fish & chip shops rise and fall, while Sanderson Weatherall says short-term cafe lettings are a current theme. According to the Local Data Company, tattoo parlours have been on the rise for a decade, leaping 173% between 2003 and 2013; the North West saw a 12% climb in the past year alone. LDC has a word of warning though, the number of tanning salons dropped by 35% between 2008 and 2012 and a further 29% in 2013. Are we past "peak tattoo"?

Roller-coaster ride for theme parks

With Disneyland Paris within easy reach, times have been hard for northern theme parks – how have the North West's sites fared in trying to find a new purpose?

£17m – value of redevelopment of Morecambe's 7.6-acre Frontierland signed off by Lancaster City Council in November 2014. Opus North's proposals comprise 120,000 sq ft of retail, 15,000 sq ft of pubs, restaurants and cafes, a 62-bedroom hotel and 336 parking spaces.

34 acres – size of the Southport Marine Park, including the Pleasureland theme park, when Urban Splash was named as preferred developer for an £80m scheme in April 2008. Splash withdrew in February 2012, and Pleasureland lives on.

420 – houses in the scheme proposed by Story Homes for the Camelot site in Chorley, closed as a theme park at the end of 2012. The scheme, opposed by Trevor Hemmings' Northern Trust, four parish councils and 289 letters of objection, was refused consent in August.

£30.2m – 2013 turnover for Blackpool Pleasure Beach (Holdings). Pre-tax losses were £1.5m, but with a sunnier 2014 hopes are high for profit this time round.

Growth commentators

0.7% UK GDP growth in Q3 according to Cabinet Office estimate in October

17 Number of business leaders quoted in the same press release with their reaction to this single statistic. Please help us should growth ever hit a full percentage point.

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