Warrington gathering enjoys upbeat review

More than 130 people attended the latest annual Warrington property review on Thursday to hear details of a series of development breakthroughs in the town.

Business partnership Warrington & Co said 1m sq ft of commercial take-up was transacted last year and more £80m of investment sales completed.

The first quarter of 2013 saw 60% of last year's office take-up already achieved, with deals totalling 137,000 sq ft confirmed so far in 2013.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has signed for 38,000 sq ft in Renaissance House, formerly home to the North West Development Agency, where the Ministry of Defence is also understood to be close to signing.

Your Housing has signed for a pre-let of 35,000 sq ft at Birchwood Park with MEPC; Golden Gates Housing is building a 20,000 sq ft headquarters on a site next to Bank Park.

Peter Crompton, chairman of Warrington & Co and director of surveyor BE Group, said: "The findings presented in our annual property report make very positive reading and show a vibrant outlook. The resilience of the local economy, recognised in national surveys, is reflected in Warrington's property market.

"This year has got off to a great start with significant property lettings already secured. This, coupled with the clear momentum building at Omega and the news that the £190m outline masterplan for Iliad's Stadium Quarter received the go-ahead from the council, means we can look forward to another busy and successful year."

Steve Park, managing director of Warrington & Co, said: "The findings in the property report are welcome news and it illustrates Warrington's strong economic position. There's a lot to look forward to in 2013 and we hope to keep building on the momentum seen last year and at the start of this year."

Office deals accounted for 213,000 sq ft of the total space taken up in 2012, with 35 deals recorded for year. Over half of the office deals were at Birchwood Park, however the largest single deal was made by Swiss-owned hearing aid manufacturers Phonak which committed to a 44,900 sq ft new build office and assembly facility at Centre Park with CDP. The building will be ready to occupy later this year.

The industrial sector recorded its sixth best annual take-up figure in 15 years at 872,000 sq ft.

Omega contributed significantly to the take-up figure, with the commitment by Brake Brothers to lease 200,000 sq ft at Omega North. The pre-let attracted a rent of £5.15/sq ft.

Crompton said that while there was still work required to address Warrington town centre, Golden Square Shopping Centre demonstrated resilience in 2012 with nine new occupiers secured, the largest being Primark taking 56,000 sq ft which will open in late 2013.

Elsewhere in the retail sector, Ikea received planning consent for the 86,000 sq ft extension to its store at Gemini Retail Park.

Warrington exceeded it targets on new-build homes in 2012, with 626 properties completed across 32 separate sites, against a target of 456 from the Local Plan.

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