Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it’s [THING] OF THE WEEK. Ephemeral enjoyments and fleeting fancies from the past seven days.
That was the sentence which kicked off our first installment of THING back in November 2016, answering the call from Place’s readers for a more lighthearted look at what’s going on in the region every Friday. Today marks the 100th Thing of the Week, so we’re looking back at some of the most memorable entries, and asking where they are now…
DOUBLE-TAKE… When planning consent was granted in 2016 for an eye-catching car park-hotel at Circle Square, THING thought it looked rather familiar, and wondered if Feilden Clegg Bradley had taken a few ‘inspiration trips’ to Hamburg to see Herzog de Meuron’s recently completely Elbphilharmonie concert hall. Construction of the hall rumbled on for 10 years and ran well over budget; since time of writing, Circle Square’s cheesegrater/Connect Four has seen two more architects work on the project (Leach Rhodes Walker, JM Architects), and a planning application revision. Thankfully it appears the comparison ends there, as Russells Construction is now well on site, with a seventh crane adding to one of the densest areas of development Manchester has seen in many a year.
JOE-BILEE… Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson is very active on the building-opening circuit, so has provided THING with a steady stream of ‘Joe Anderson thumbs up’ or ‘Joe Anderson jazz hands’ photo opportunities. Whatever your views on the Mayor, you certainly couldn’t say Anderson doesn’t show enthusiasm for the developments going on in his city. However his tenure as Mayor is coming to an end, and next August it will be up to the Liverpool Labour group to decide whether there’s enough Momentum behind Joe to put him forward once again as their mayoral nominee. Will Anderson manage another thumbs up?
AND HOW… It’s been all change for the team at How Planning. The start of 2017 saw a new partner, Neil Lucas, join the team, and How celebrated by commissioning a Reservoir Dogs-style team photo, obviously taking tips from investment agency Christopher Dee who ‘wore it first’ with a similar shoot a few years’ previously. Wind the clock forward, and an acquisition by GVA this year created GVA How Planning, before GVA in turn was acquired by international consultancy Avison Young, creating… GVA How Avison Young? Conversations about branding are understood to be ongoing.
THE WHITTAKER TAKES IT ALL… Could it also be about to all change for Peel owner John Whittaker? In the very first THING, we noted that Whittaker had totted up a total of 412 directorships under his name on Companies House (now down by one to 411). Life may be about to get even busier, if the Whittaker-led consortium currently considering whether to make a £2.9bn bid for Intu, the shopping centre operator which bought the Trafford Centre from Peel/Whittaker eight years ago, gets its way. Whittaker made the deal with Intu in 201o, taking £75m in cash, and the rest of the £1.9bn property value in Intu shares, at the time valued at 400p. Today, Intu shares are valued at 192p. The consortium has asked for two extensions on the deadline to make its bid, so perhaps Whittaker is considering how he can claw back some of that cash.
ALL BEING EQUAL… Gender equality charity Stonewall makes an annual publication of the top 100 employers to work for from a lesbian, gay, bi and trans perspective, and reassuringly contains a good number of North West companies and organisations. In 2018’s list, ‘Blue light’ employers fare well, with Cheshire Fire & Rescue, Cheshire Constabulary, and Lancashire Constabulary all ranking highly. Manchester Met and Uni of Manchester place a joint 16th, and are the only universities in the North West to appear. According to the list, Bury Council is the best local authority for LGBT opportunities, and while Cheshire West & Chester Council isn’t far behind, Manchester, Liverpool, Lancashire or Cumbria don’t feature at all. In 2017 Lloyds Bank topped the index, but this year were toppled from the top spot by the National Assembly for Wales, with the Welsh Government also featuring. The full report is available here
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO VROOM… While THING exists to give a sideways look at development news, tower projects, council goings-on, and other tidbits, property professionals are still human and have shown a taste for a cute dog story or baby photo here and there. During Christmas 2016, the North West and beyond were treated to an entertaining video of Capital & Centric co-founder Tim Heatley’s fourth child, being entertained (read: perplexed) by a trip around the house on an automated hoover. Heatley had a taste of internet fame as the video went viral with 2.5m views and thousands of likes. Baby Lucy has now just celebrated her second birthday, and is joining the Heatley family on Tim’s various attempts to fit his entire family of six on a Swifty Scooter. View the video in full here
AND THIS WEEK… Many congratulations to architect K2, which won the competition for Moorside’s visitor centre… after the nuclear power plant had been cancelled. The developer Nugen launched a RIBA competition for the site – including the visitor centre and workers’ accommodation – in 2016 and announced a shortlist the same year, featuring K2 alongside Graeme Massie Architects, FaulknerBrown Architects, Reiach & Hall, William Matthews Associates and CF Architects. K2 and Reiach & Hall both came away with the “prize”; a shame that such a design may go to waste after the project was canned earlier this month, following the exit of backer Toshiba. Another one to add to the pile of architectural could-have-beens.