The Base Warrington
The area's first office, the 50,000 sq ft The Base, completed in 2015

Warrington plans next office at £190m Stadium Quarter

Charlie Schouten

Amid falling availability and rising demand, Warrington Council will bring forward its next major office development as part of the town’s £190m Stadium Quarter with an outline planning application due to be lodged in the coming months.

Steve Park, managing director of Warrington & Co, said there has been “significant interest” from both tenants and investors in a new office development at the Stadium Quarter, which will link Warrington Wolves’ stadium with the town’s central station.

An outline application for the grade A space is due to be submitted in the coming months, he said, and combined with previous development projects, this would bring the total invested in the Stadium Quarter to £90m over the last three years.

The 90-acre site has already seen two major developments: The Base, a £9m 50,000 sq ft office space, was completed in 2015, and provides flexible office space; while the £10m University Technical College, developed in partnership with the University Technical College Trust and Manchester Metropolitan University, opened in September 2016.

The new office development is likely to be on a similar scale to The Base.

Warrington & Co’s recent annual property review reported office take up of 168,000 sq ft in 2017, lower than the long-term average, while supply continued to shrink with demand rising.

There were more than 30 office deals of 2,150 sq ft or higher in Warrington last year, according to the report’s author Vince Sandwell of BE Group, with an average transaction size of 5,400 sq ft and an average lease term of five years.

The largest deal last year was Cavendish Nuclear renting the whole of 106 Dalton Avenue at Birchwood Park, taking just over 47,000 sq ft on a 15-year lease. Prime rents have also soared from around £14/sq ft to £21/sq ft in the last 12 months.

There were also 13 office investments made last year; among the largest deals was Trafford Council buying the 43,400 sq ft Sonova House from Greenridge Capital for £11.4m at a net initial yield of 4.96%.

Greenridge also sold Renaissance House at Centre Park to a private investor for £10.5m. The sale of the 40,600 sq ft building reflects a net initial yield of 5.69%.

Sonova House is let to hearing aid company Phonak, while Renaissance House is let to the Department for Communities & Local Government.

Alongside offices, the Stadium Quarter is also slated to see major improvements to Warrington Central Station, including a reorientation of its former main entrance and a “station square” to enhance public realm.

There will also be a multi-storey car park, a hotel, alongside a new highways connection between Winwick Road and Bewsey Road to improve access.

A £6m, 33,000 sq ft Youth Zone building, backed by a £3m investment from Warrington Council, is also planned for the site, and will go before the council’s development control committee this Wednesday with a recommendation to approve.

The £190m development is set to complete in 2024.

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It’s good to see Warrington’s town centre getting some active regeneration at long last. The focus on creating big sheds around the town has resulted in the centre falling well behind an acceptable level.

By Ian Jones