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SITE VISIT | Warrington’s Time Square

Charlie Schouten

Warrington’s Time Square, set to complete in early 2020, will deliver an office for the council, a cinema, leisure, retail, extensive public realm, and a market. Working with contractor Vinci, Muse Developments is delivering a project that it hopes will be transformational for the town.

The £107m development, funded by Warrington Council and being delivered by Muse alongside the council’s development arm Warrington & Co and contractor Vinci, is well under way with steelwork coming out of the ground.

Anchor tenants already in place include Cineworld, which will operate a 13-screen cinema from the site, while a 1,160-space multi-storey car park has already been completed. Cineworld was confirmed as an anchor tenant for the 46,500 sq ft space as far back as September 2015.

Designed by Leach Rhodes Walker, the project is also set to feature a new market facing Bridge Street, ground-floor retail and leisure, and an office.

Place North West visited the site alongside Muse development director David Burkinshaw, who outlined the approach to the scheme.

Central to the proposals is the office building, which is due to be occupied by Warrington Council, and will act as an anchor to help to activate the area once it completes. This will host around 1,100 staff once fully operational, and will also open up other sites for redevelopment – including a council-owned site on the corner of Academy Street and Buttermarket Street.

Groundworks are now complete and the initial stage of the U-shaped office is now starting to come out of the ground at the time of Place North West’s visit.

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Restaurants will occupy the ground floor of the cinema

The restaurants – primarily based on the ground floor of the cinema, although some have mezzanine levels – range between nearly 6,700 sq ft to 3,600 sq ft in size. These will also have outside seating as part of the developer and the council’s focus to make the area active throughout both the day and the evening.

Although no operators have been confirmed for these units, discussions are still ongoing to attract a mix of nationals and regional independents to the site.

Active public realm is one of the development’s most important areas, with thoroughfares designed to link the new car park through to Horrocks Lane via the cinema and restaurants, while the public realm improvements are also likely to spill out into the pedestrianised section of Bridge Street via Dolmans Lane.

Muse is exploring running its own company to manage the space once it completes, much like Allied London manages Spinningfields in Manchester.

Aside from the cinema, market element is one of the key focal points of the project and features a façade retention facing Bridge Street. This opens up access to the cinema and its associated retail and leisure either through the market, or via a separate thoroughfare potentially lined with café and restaurant space alongside The River of Life monument along Dolmans Lane.

Around one-third of the new market, totalling between 45,000 sq ft to 50,000 sq ft, will be an “Altrincham Market-style” food and drink offering, with the remainder set aside for the existing traders to move back in to, alongside new operators.

Talks are still ongoing with these, Burkinshaw said, but they are likely to include a mix of both established and independent operators.

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A CGI of the finished cinema

The temporary market, at 25,000 sq ft, will be vacated once the new market completes, and Muse has been considering options for this element of the project. A bowling alley was previously mooted but other leisure offering options are now being explored.

Burkinshaw said he hoped the project could act as a catalyst for wider regeneration of the area, with a hotel already coming forward on Bridge Street, while plans have also been approved for an apartment block on the former Kwik Save supermarket. Developer Lane End, working with Torus Housing Group, is proposing 144 homes on this site.

Looking forward, Muse and the council are also eyeing a possible “phase five” to Time Square on the current DW Fitness site next to the new multi-storey car park between Academy Way, Academy Street, and Bank Street.

This has already been snapped up by the council and has been earmarked for a possible residential development to bring more permanent residents into the centre.

Time Square is set to complete in the first quarter of 2020. The professional team on the project also includes WSP.

Your Comments

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Such a game changer for us in Warrington. It’s already creating interest in the surrounding areas. Exciting times ahead!

By Dave Roberts

Only 1 tenant agreed – this looks like a disaster. It’s a £100 million+ project underwritten by the taxpayer. The Council offices are moving to this development, but WBC refuses to tell taxpayers how much these are costing. The centre of gravity of the town centre is nowhere near Time Square – we have Golden Square, which was expanded in 2008 and still hasn’t filled its space.

So we’re spending £100 million+ on a market, a multi-story car park and a cinema. This isn’t transformation, it’s the knee-jerk response

By Jim

Oh wind your neck in. We are an affluent town approaching a population of a quarter of a million. It’s 2 years before it will be ready. By then we’ll have the usual Pizza Hut, Frankie &. Bennies, Chiquito etc signed up. With the planned residential developments in the town ce,ntre, I can see a vibrant night time family environment, I won’t have to drive to the Traff.

By TF and the wire

@Dave Roberst – no, this isn’t ‘creating interest in the surrounding areas’. It’s creating no interest whatsoever. Who do you work for?

@TF and the wire – I shall try to contain my excitement at the possibility of attracting Pizza Hut to the town centre. I would be keen to see a town centre masterplan but – oh, we don’t have one, do we? I’d also love to know how much the new town hall will cost us – but that’s a state secret which even FOI can’t reveal. I’ll ‘wind my neck in’ when WBC starts to engage with its citizens rather than dictating to us.

By Jim

Getting a bit over excited there Jim. Not sure why you need to know who I work for? If 144 apartments across the road and talks of a hotel aren’t interest then I don’t know what is! If you don’t like it fine, but there’s plenty in the town that are looking forward to completion.

By Dave Roberts

Hi Dave – why do I want to know who you work for? Because I’m tired of propaganda, and some comments in the media look, shall we say, angled.

Not accusing you of anything – that would be grossly unfair – but if you have an interest, please declare it so we all know where your comments are coming from.

By Jim

No hidden agenda Jim. Just a resident with an interest in the town.

By Dave Roberts