Commercial Property Register
December 2017 - March 2018www.compropregister.com
Building on its unrivalled history of scientific and technology
achievements, such as the first commercial commuter, Manchester is
pushing its high tech credential hard.
According to David Laws of Matthews & Goodman, the region’s
Technology, Media and Telecommunications sector (TMT) has never been
stronger and is having an impact on office design and specification.
While he stresses that the ambitious people in the industry want an
attractive office environment which “has to look like a cool bar or hotel
lobby than a traditional corporate interior”, functionality is also critical.
In his view much of the region’s existing buildings stock provides
ample scope for the essentials require by TMT companies, “thanks to the
red brick warehouses and 19th century light industrial units of Liverpool,
Manchester, Preston and the towns in between.”
Which brings us neatly to the 29 acre site of the University of
Manchester’s North Campus, close to Piccadilly railway station, that could
be in line for a £1 billion regeneration project. Manchester City Council
has asked CBRE to advise on the site, one of the few large remaining
undeveloped areas in the city centre.
The area has been earmarked for technology, education and research
and development after UMIST relocates to Oxford Road in 2021. Such a
large site has the potential for up to 2,500 homes, 139,350 sq metres
(1.5 million sq ft) of offices and shops as well as hotels but it must have
a research and knowledge-based emphasis to fit the university’s needs as
well as the wider perspective in the city.
What UMIST requires is a development partner for the project. CBRE is
expected to report on the options by the end of the year. It is likely that
high level research will figure prominently in the plans because this is the
site of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
What makes this doubly important for the city is that it is adjacent
to the Mayfield regeneration scheme which is being undertaken by U+I
and while the plans are for slightly less housing and offices than the
North Campus, the question is whether both schemes fall foul of Mayor
Burnham’s new approach.
Judging from the success of the Universal Square Business Centre
which is 39% just six months after it was launched by MCR, the office
market in the city is in good health.
There are now 35 businesses at the centre, such as Carillion, RMB
Solicitors and Marsan Holdings. Chris Taylor of MCR said: “We expect the
business centre to be at full occupancy by the end of the year, and plan to
roll out the concept across other MCR buildings in the UK.”
Part of the management approach is to create a business community
among its occupiers.
A further piece of the jigsaw to
regenerate the city centre has come
with a joint venture between Henry
Boot and Greater Manchester
Property Venture Fund (GMPVF) for
the Island Site, John Dalton Street.
The attraction of the site, which has
Granger House, Old Colony House and
Ridgefield is that it is close to
Spinningfields and St Peter’s Square,
which are at the heart of the city.
Interestingly, this adds to the
substantial portfolio of properties that
Henry Boot has in the centre, which
include the Silk Works, the Courthouse
and the Equitable Building.
Cllr Kieran Quinn said: “The
development undertaken by GMPVF has
the twin aims of generating a
commercial return for the fund and
supporting the wider economy of the
North West. In this way we are able
to meet our future pension obligations
and invest locally.”
Adam Brady of Henry Boot added
that: “Our Manchester development
business has continued to expand its
portfolio and this latest appointment
underlines our commitment to the city.
The Island Site is an important
regeneration project and has huge
The attractions of Runcorn as a business destination are
demonstrated by two letting at Pin Properties’ Astmoor
Industrial Estate and Manor Park.
The warehouses, totalling 1,470 sq metres (15,824 sq
ft) were let/sold respectively by BE Group, whose Simon
Roddam said: “Both of the recent transactions have been with
inward investors highlighting the healthy supply of product in
Runcorn and the recent road link enhancement provided by
the Mersey Gateway Bridge.”
Lee Egerton, Asset Manager at Pin Properties, commented
that their refurbished warehouses in Runcorn are proving to
be an attractive offering.