Currently, the developer’s 25-acre Salford scheme comprises 1,116 apartments across 10 blocks, and construction of a further 189 homes is to begin this summer. However, attention is now turning from residential to the later phases of the masterplan, which feature 500,000 sq ft of offices.
“We’re providing a different environment and a mixed-use community where office occupiers have got the best of both worlds,” said Paul Kelly, commercial director at Scarborough Group International. “You have got the city centre location with all the amenity on your doorstep. But then you’ve got this beautiful green environment.”
MIDDLEWOOD LOCKS FACT FILE
Developer: FairBriar International, a joint venture in which Scarborough International Properties holds a 50% stake, with Metro Holdings of Singapore and Hualing Group of China controlling 25% each
Architect: Whittam Cox
Commercial space: 900,000 sq ft
Location: Bound by Trinity Way to the east and Oldfield Road to the west
Before it plumped for English Cities Fund’s New Bailey, HMRC was in conversation with Scarborough about its Manchester office requirement. That enquiry came too early in the development of Middlewood Locks, Kelly told Place North West.
Since then, contractor BCEGI has built out more than 1,000 apartments to the west of East Ordsall Lane, with Co-op and Seven Brothers Brewing Co providing the retail and leisure offers respectively.
While the focus so far has been on residential, the work done to date has been carried out with half an eye on attracting office occupiers later down the line.
“What we have done with the first two phases is establish Middlewood Locks as a place, so the offering can be seen and visualised,” Kelly said.
The development, which will have a GDV of £1bn once complete, has been a hit with residents, according to Scarborough’s sales and marketing director Nicola Wallis.
Some residents who are currently renting at Middlewood Locks are on the waiting list to buy within the scheme, while others already on the housing ladder are planning to upsize.
Older people looking to downsize are also gravitating towards Middlewood Locks, Wallis said.
“They’ll sell the family home to be part of a community. They want to have the benefit of gardens and landscaping but not spend the weekend gardening,” she said. “They want to be out in the city enjoying all the culture and the restaurants and bars that the city has got to offer.”
Construction of phase three, which features almost 200 homes across two apartment blocks and seven three-storey townhouses, is due to begin this summer after Salford City Council granted Scarborough planning consent last year.
Meanwhile, a reserved matters application is being worked up for phase four on land bounded by East Ordsall Lane and Trinity Way. That application could be lodged before the end of the year.
Phase four features a further 1,000 homes across four blocks, a hotel and a multistorey car park, as well as the 500,000 sq ft of offices.
The mixed-use offer could play a key role in attracting office occupiers to Middlewood Locks.
“Middlewood Locks gives you a 24/7 presence,” Wallis said. “It’s a very active neighbourhood community that gives office occupiers a lot of comfort that they’re moving into a great location that is really well connected.”
“We would love to have a pre-let but there’s a distinct possibility we’ll have to build speculatively,” said Scarborough’s commercial director Paul Kelly.
Despite fierce competition in the office market, the flexibility of the Middlewood Locks masterplan means Scarborough can be agile and tailor its offers to potential occupiers, according to Kelly.
“The nature of the consent that we’ve got gives us that flexibility to move and react to requirements,” he said. “Providing we work in the parameters of that type of consent, we can provide you whatever you like.”
Last month, Scarborough celebrated its fifth year on site at Middlewood Locks and in that time, the developer has seen several surrounding schemes come out of the ground, altering the skyline.
“When we first started developing, we were at the gateway [to the city centre], but now there’s so much happening it has bridged that gap, and we’ve become a real connectivity piece, [bringing] Salford and Manchester together,” Wallis said.
New Bailey, Property Alliance Group’s Axis, and Allied London’s Enterprise City – which includes Factory – have all sprung up while Middlewood Locks has progressed.
“We have got pictures from when we started on site and there was nothing apart from Beetham Tower. You can just see how quickly things are starting to evolve and, and how much has grown around us,” Wallis said.
As Middlewood Locks itself continues to emerge and grow, Scarborough hopes it can offer something different for residents and potential commercial tenants and will bend over backwards to do so.
“Middlewood Locks is a place with a personality, it is a unique and different environment,” Kelly said. “When we’re talking to occupiers we pretty much offer them whatever they want.”