SITE STATS…The long-awaited, much-anticipated Chester Northgate is under construction (finally) with the steel frames of a cinema, multistorey car park, and indoor market all erected. It sounds like an interesting site to work on. So far, more than 10,000 Roman artefacts have been discovered, according to Cheshire West & Chester Council’s communications officer Andrew Arditti, who treated delegates at Place North West’s Cheshire Development Update event yesterday to a tour of Northgate. Among the other highlights of the walkaround was the discovery that the yellow crane doing most of the heavy lifting on site took a whopping eight days to construct, is as tall as 25 giraffes and is capable of lifting the equivalent of 20 double-decker buses. 

Hatch 2

Bruntwood’s Hatch in Manchester has fuelled a string of similar schemes

HATCH OF THE DAY… It feels like everybody’s getting into the old shipping container game these days, and Carlisle’s the latest, planning to create a cultural and creative courtyard in Bitts Park. Start-up community group Tribe Carlisle has won the contract to operate six upcycled containers, housing up to 13 businesses. Bruntwood’s Hatch in Manchester might not have been the first, but it was definitely a big influencer throughout the region, with Recall Properties referencing it in plans for Moor Lane amid Preston’s studentland this February. Start-ups and funky spaces, THING is all for it.

Jim Whittaker

Whittaker starts the ride this month. cJWhittaker

WHITTAKER’S WHEELS…If there’s one thing Peel L&P’s James Whittaker likes, it’s a challenge – look at what he’s taken on in the past, including swimming the Manchester Ship Canal (a length, not a width) in 2008 for Manchester’s Children’s Hospital Appeal. This year, he was due to take on a bike ride from Cairo to Cape Town, with the end-of-trip treat being watching the Lions rugby tour, but that’s been nixed by this pesky little thing called Covid. Whittaker has managed to shake off his disappointment to come up with Cycle Blighty 4 WaterAid, in which he’ll ride round the 5,700km coast of Great Britain at an average of 185km a day, ending in St Andrews. He starts at the end of the month.

Liverpool Empty Planning Portal, LCC

Liverpool’s planning portal was empty this week

PORTAL…If you go on to Liverpool City Council’s planning portal you will see that no new planning applications have been validated by the authority in the last 14 days. Concerned about this apparent planning freeze, THING contacted the council and asked for an explanation. Expecting to hear that the dearth of applications was due to upheaval caused by the arrival of Government commissioners, it came as a pleasant surprise to be told that the council is simply in the process of updating its planning portal and that a new system is due to launch soon. 

c.Flickr user PrintKick, CC BY 2.0 (

UMBRELLA-ELLA-ELLAThe ADHD Foundation’s Umbrella Project is back in Liverpool, with rainbow brollies taking over the sky on Church Alley. The art installation is meant to celebrate and raise awareness of neurodiversity, a term that includes those with ADHD, autism, dyslexia and more. The umbrellas first made their appearance in 2017 and became an annual occurrence until the coronavirus pandemic. Now the project is back, with schools across the region setting up their own displays as well. You can stand under these umbrellas until late September. 


The Baltic Hotel was designed by architect Domec

HOTEL HIP…Hospitality operator Town Hotels is tapping up hipsters with its latest offering the Baltic Hotel, to open in one of Liverpool’s trendiest quarters, the Baltic Triangle, next month. “Our [hotel] is an eccentric mix of post-war modernism dressed in pre-war architecture,” the company’s website proudly states. “Where punk art meets urban chic, a colourful retreat for hipsters and hippies, the great and the good. So, drop your bags, grab a beer and unwind.” The six-storey property on Jamaica Street, developed by Living Brick, is one of many hotels whose construction was ongoing during the pandemic and is now preparing to open its doors for the first time. The hotel features a ground floor bar and restaurant and a painted mural across its front and side facades – created to cover up the poor visual appearance of the former factory building’s original brickwork. With only 58 bedrooms, our hipster readers had better get booking…

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