The month in property | April

Out with the old

Work could start this summer on Nikal’s £70m Altair scheme in Altrincham, a project that’s overcome the collapse of JV partner David McLean (yup, it’s that old), and losing out on the new hospital site to Citybranch, before re-appearing before Trafford planners at half its original size. With Property Alliance restarting Axis, and Ask buying a site next to Manchester Central and jazzing up a 750,000 sq ft SimpsonHaugh-designed scheme first launched in a vague way at MIPIM 2010, the month’s so nostalgic it deserves a FAC number.

Orleans HouseNew, Orleans ain’t

Liverpool City Council approved the conversion of Bruntwood’s Orleans House in Liverpool’s Edmund Street into 71 flats. With the Plaza having gone up for sale in March, can we conclude Bruntwood’s not super-keen on the prospects for Liverpool offices anymore? Another key Liverpool landlord, Downing, this month continued its retreat from the office market, disposing of Federation House in Hope Street for £2.5m. Is this a hint of a future only full of apartments, hotels, and aparthotels? Answers on a postcard.

A river runs through it

It’s all happening in Stockport. The council has bought the Merseyway shopping centre out of administration and announced a £40m refurb with talk of “improving the retail mix”, i.e. “posher shops, please”. Work also started onsite at the Red Rock leisure scheme, with a couple of the usual suspects such as Zizzi and Pizza Express signing up. There’s friction up the hill, though, where the market hall has become a political football. The sides: “It needs to be more like Altrincham” versus “the traders aren’t being treated right”. This one could run and run.

AC by Marriott ManchesterNorth by North West

The northward march of Manchester’s trendy bit continues, with April seeing plans go in for a Manchester Life scheme of 199 homes, 5,000 sq ft of commercial, North of Halle St Peter’s in Ancoats, and an AC by Marriott hotel, just over Oldham Road in New Cross. The Ancoats mini-boom is a natural post-Northern Quarter progression, but with some larger sites available than those plots on offer inside the ring road, along with cash in the market, imaginations could run wild. Here’s hoping for some rigorous design standards!

Rich pickings (for lawyers)

Oh, Cheshire East! The council’s three-year battle with Richborough Estates over a 146-home scheme at Moorfields, near Willaston, shows no sign of ending, with the local authority seeking a landmark “leave to appeal” a 2015 Court of Appeal decision, on the grounds that it “undermines the scope and force of council planning policy to shape development” and risks “developers riding roughshod over councils’ development policies”. That councils even have development policies might come as news to some in the area. Are 146 houses really worth all this?

Preston FishergateThe last big picture show

In Preston, Benson Elliot withdrew its application for a £40m redevelopment of its Fishergate shopping centre, which featured a cinema alongside tarted-up shopping areas. Issues arose as the council has thrown its lot in with Muse on the £50m Markets Quarter scheme across town, led by ubiquitous cinema regen anchor The Light. Benson Elliot’s consultants GCW reckon Preston can support two cinemas, pointing out that Middlesbrough and Hull have four. The council might have to make nice now; there’s £40m at stake, as well as a risk that Preston will look less ambitious even than Middlesbrough.

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