The month in property | March

A pizza the action

It’s all happening at Omega in Warrington, since people came to their senses and wrote it off as an office location. The latest occupier to fall for the old RAF Burtonwood site is pizza megabrand Domino’s, which is to build a £30m, 117,000 sq ft factory and storage facility on Omega South. Maybe Andrew Sutherland of Miller, the developer behind the project, was stretching the point slightly in talking up Domino’s as “the second manufacturer on site,” or maybe this is the start of something big. Sheffield means steel. Birmingham means cars. Warrington means pizza.

Pretty vacant (but not for long)

Congratulations to all involved in Fabrica, the funky office element at Royal London Asset Management’s New Islington scheme in Manchester. The whole of the 24,000 sq ft building has been let to fashion retailer Glamorous, bringing to an end four years of emptiness. However, it would be unfair to put Fabrica in the Most Unwanted pantheon with the likes of No1 Archway in Birley Fields, possibly built while Pitt the Elder was Prime Minister, and unlet for eight painful years before becoming home to UK Fast.

Liverpool Commercial District BID Bixteth StreetA BID for success

Businesses in Liverpool’s commercial district have voted to continue with the Business Improvement District for another five years. 85% of a turnout of 43% (up from 2011’s 33% turnout) said “Aye”, or at least “Go on then”, to the BID Company’s £4m action plan. BIDs, zones where businesses pay a levy for additional services, have been around in the UK since 2005. Once established, they’re not often voted out (Keswick in 2011 was the first of very few to reject renewal), while businesses that have objected have been clobbered in court. You might conclude that people fall into line because it’s too much hassle not to. Do BIDs actually deliver for businesses, though?

Let them eat chicken

Heady stuff in Oldham, where the Old Town Hall has its first restaurant tenants, in the shape of Nando’s and Gourmet Burger Kitchen. At £36m, the hall redevelopment is a hugely significant piece of the Oldham plan, and it needs bums on seats, so these deals are good news. The town needs it, having hit the headlines this month by being named by the ONS as England’s most deprived town. The sooner the restaurants open the better; there’ll no doubt be a few broadsheet thinkpiece writers and poverty-porn documentary-makers swinging into town who’ll need feeding.

Colin SinclairColin all the heroes

Exciting times for Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter, which has seen not only consent given for Liverpool John Moores University’s £100m Copperas Hill project, but has a new boss – Colin Sinclair, formerly gaffer of Manchester’s Boardwalk nightclub and bands such as James, professionally better known for his time at inward investment body MIDAS and Bruntwood. Said Colin at MIPIM: “I’ve loved it at Bruntwood, but I’ve got a sort of Doctor Who complex, I have to change identity every six years or so.” A nice Tom Baker-style scarf as a leaving gift, then?

Kings of the castle

Is people power taking hold in Manchester’s Castlefield? Consultation has opened for a Neighbourhood Plan for the area, which if approved would only be Manchester’s third, and its first in the city centre. Castlefield Forum chairman Carol Middleton says, reasonably enough, “we want a say in shaping our neighbourhood for the future.” It’s almost as if people don’t trust residential developers not to throw up a load of buy-to-let tat given half the chance. Let’s see how this goes down at the Town Hall.

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