Wates pitches for Manchester and Liverpool high-rise schemes

Wates is looking to deliver major residential, hotel, and offices in Liverpool and Manchester as part of a strategic move into high-rise projects, according to regional director for construction in the North, Paul Dodsworth.

The contractor has this year completed Vita Student at Manchester’s Circle Square for client Select Property Group, and although it is currently delivering a series of high-profile projects across the region, its high-rise order book is relatively small

Speaking to Place North West, Dodsworth said the contractor would be looking closely at a number of high-rise schemes in both Manchester and Liverpool as it looks to build its order book in the North West.

“We’re already delivering three towers of more than 30 storeys in Birmingham, and a phenomenal amount of high-rise up and down the country, but in Manchester and Liverpool we’re doing nothing,” he said.

“It’s fair to say we’ve not actively pursued it as much in the past, but the skillset is there, with a team from Vita Student at Circle Square ready to go. It’s not right for me to sit in my hotel room [in Manchester] and see 40-plus cranes out of the window, and none of them has a Wates sign on it.”

Paul Dodsworth

Dodsworth took up the role of Northern managing director at Wates in November 2018

The group’s projects across the two cities include the 200-room cruise liner terminal hotel in Liverpool; a £16m redevelopment of Stockport College on Wellington Road, as well as a series of smaller schemes including the £4.6m Saughall Massie fire station.

Dodsworth said the company had “an idea” of the type of projects it would look get involved with, citing U+I’s Mayfield, and CEG’s High Street scheme, where he added there was already “a long-standing relationship” with the developer.

Residential, offices, and hotels will all be looked at with a number of jobs currently being tendered, although Dodsworth declined to name names, with further announcements expected in 2019.

However, asked whether the demise of Forrest and Carillion had warned the group off pursuing high-rise city-centre projects, he said: “It needs to be right work for the right client, and we have always been a careful, prudent builder.

“We have a strong balance sheet and we want developers to know we’re open for business.”

Wates is looking to join a raft of contractors that are delivering high-rise schemes across both cities. Companies including Bowmer & Kirkland, Sir Robert McAlpine, Sisk, Caddick, Russells, and Vermont are all on-site at projects in Manchester and Salford, while Vermont is also active in Liverpool, where it has been chosen to build the first 39-storey tower at Infinity for Elliot Group.

Wates reported an order book of £5.1bn and a pre-tax profit of £36m in its latest full-year results.

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