Howard scarf
Earlier this month Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, announced plans to retire from his post next year

The month in property | September

Neil Tague

And it’s goodbye from him

Where else do you start but with the news Sir Howard Bernstein is set to retire? We’ve asked ourselves for years who the city will turn to once SHB calls time, and now we’re about to find out. Eamonn Boylan, one-time right hand and very much one of Manchester’s top team, seems the obvious frontrunner, but this is the year of the upset. Also heading exitwards is Jim O’Neill, formerly Goldman Sachs globetrotter, coiner of the term BRIC and Red Knights convenor, who’s leaving his job as commercial secretary to the Treasury with responsibility for the Northern Powerhouse. About which…

Power games

Northern Powerhouse Partnership is go! George Osborne will chair the new body seeking to keep his banner policy alive, and although George hasn’t actually spoken to Theresa May about it, he says Communities Secretary George Osborne Northern Powerhouse Partnership September 2016 wide cropSajid Javid is well up for it. Super. The government’s not paying, which probably tells a story – businesses (so far including Barclays, ABP and Mace) will fund and set the agenda for what looks like a giant LEP. Could anyone currently in senior government point to the North of England on a map, even if they wanted to? Sounds like a job for one, or even two, civic big hitters who’ll soon have times on their hands.

Dale Street dilemma

Decision time in Liverpool, as the council mulls shipping out of its Municipal Buildings stronghold on Dale Street. When you’ve got to save £90m over the next three years, leaving an under-occupied 1860s pile seems a no-brainer, especially given the 2014 investment in the Cunard Building. Who knows, it might even make a nice hotel (thought every developer in town…) Development might also soon be happening at Pall Mall, following the council inviting tenders through OJEU for a development partner on a £75m, 400,000 sq ft office scheme.

No1 Lord Street

Far from green

To Manchester’s insidiously named “Green Quarter” (Cheetham Hill Road to you) where B&M Retail tycoons Simon and Bobby Arora are looking to stick a bit more cash into property, proposing a 192-apartment scheme via their Anglesource property vehicle. It’s all a bit sensible-looking really; if shop squillionaires must develop, please can we rediscover the mid-2000s mania of preposterous towers such as the John Hargreaves-backed Maro Developments’ Brunswick Tower in Liverpool? Oh… these lads actually want something built? Fair enough.

In with the SIF

Liverpool has now launched a £257m Single Investment Fund, a five-year project under which bidders can seek funding to make big projects happen (following the Strategic Investment Framework of 2012, to file under ‘mixed results’). Along with big ticket ambitions such as linking the city into HS2, and making the city region “the largest marine energy hub in Western Europe” sits “identify and maximise new spaces and places of economic opportunity”. Errrr, isn’t that basically the whole point of commercial development?

All roads lead to… go on, guess

With crushing predictability, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s new HQ (let’s not call it Burnham Towers even jokingly yet) is to be in… Manchester. Specifically, at lovely Churchgate House. Yes, various struggling boroughs could all do with a chunky 25,000 sq ft deal, but why put yourself in the position of picking favourites? Churchgate is splendidly located for rail and tram, which will make it all the more hilarious when flustered civil servants rush in late for key meetings because the transport system’s having one of its periodic meltdowns.

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