Express Buildings

The month in property | March

Neil Tague

Fringe benefits

It’s all happening on the other side of Manchester’s Great Ancoats Street. The Daily Express building’s been sold, and there’s a ton of Manchester Life schemes going up, the next of which, designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects, has attracted some caustic criticism during consultation. Urban Splash meanwhile swooped for Beehive Mill, with director Nathan Cornish talking in the press release about how all the guys loved Sankey’s, just in case anyone out there had forgotten that Splash are really cool.

Rock around the dock

Could Everton finally be about to go and bloody well build a new ground? They might, you know. With the council acting as middleman and, effectively, underwriter on a deal with Peel at Bramley Moore Dock – and let’s face it, Liverpool Waters needs something other than flats and the odd bit of parkland – the wheels are in motion. If it doesn’t happen here it probably never will. Let’s all just try not to think about when the Toffees dropped the ball by failing to come up with £30m to take the Kings Dock site, now occupied by ACC Liverpool.

Catch me if you Cannes

Food for thought in the Tech Nation 2017 report, which stated that Manchester is far from bossing things on the tech front, being some way behind Reading, Bristol & Bath and Poole insofar as the value of its digital economy goes. Positivity’s all well and good and the right things are happening, but a dose of reality never does any harm. In the same vein, for all the admiration heaped on Manchester’s MIPIM efforts, it was noticeable that the city also failed to make the top ten in the CBRE Investor Intentions Survey, released at that event.

The heat is on

Fair play to Manchester for one thing though, unlike most others it seems to be having a mayoral race worthy of the name. Labour’s Andy Burnham launched his campaign with some clunkingly clichéd musical choices, along with confirmation of his intention to rip up the Spatial Framework, while the Conservative’s Sean “from here, for here” Anstee did some MIPIM gladhanding before launching his bid at the Bury Black Pudding Company. As several observers noted, even if he loses, Anstee is doing his long-term career prospects a power of good.

The past was yours but the future’s mine

Warrington, UK City of Culture 2021? Technically, it’s not a city of course, but this is not the time to quibble. As the Centre for Cities routinely reminds us, Warrington is the North West’s 21st century economic success story, and now it’s looking to add a bit of cultural glitz with a bid to be the next Hull. We’re not so cheap as to go down the easy route of Rick Astley gags, and this should at least be worth a few quid for Warrington if successful. Eleven places are in the running, with shortlisting taking place this summer.

Hip to be square

Birkenhead’s Hamilton Square area has some jewels and should be better than it is. Now, along with Woodside and the town centre, it’s part of a £1bn project Wirral Council has put out to tender seeking a joint venture partner. Be an interesting one to watch, this. Wirral didn’t really make as much of the MIPIM stage as they might, apart from some inter-Peel colleague joshing about Wirral Waters having more buildings up than Liverpool Waters. Will the usual suspects throw their hats in?

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