Commercial Property Register
December 2017 - March 2018www.compropregister.com
Given the tight limits on government funding it makes sense for
local authorities to become more entrepreneurial and boost their
income through property investment and development.
Many are already doing this although there is always a degree of
resistance because of the perceived risks of such a policy.
In the North West, Warrington Borough Council has taken this route
and is buying the highly successful Birchwood Park, arguing that it is
protecting its frontline services and employment from the worst effects
of government spending cuts.
The park, which has 150 businesses and a specialist group of nuclear
engineering companies, is owned by Oaktree Capital Management and
Patrizia. The money will help hold taxes in check and bring investment to
the town centre.
Cllr Russ Bowden said: “Warrington is very much seen as an exemplar
of how to go about this type of investment.” The council believes it leads
the way in investing its capital and bringing benefits in lower taxes.
Meanwhile, the last warehouse unit at Cavendish Avenue has been let by
the park’s manager, Patrizia, to BiSN, a global company in metal-to-metal
downhole sealing solutions. The company has moved from two sites in
Runcorn and Atherton into the 2,044 sq metres (22,000 sq ft) building
which gives BiSN Enterprise Zone status as well as the range of facilities
and services within the Cheshire Science Corridor.
Martin O’Rourke of Birchwood Park said: “Cavendish Avenue was built
in response to the growing demand from SMEs for bespoke space in the
North West. The combination of office and warehouse space in a business
park has generated interest and we are pleased now to have a full
The success of Birchwood Park is obvious from the fact that more
than 6,503 sq metres (70,000 sq ft) of offices was let in the first half
of the year, up 45% on the same period of 2016. Impressively, 20 new
companies have moved in, including the high profile Ricoh, which added
weight to the international flavour of Birchwood.
A key factor for the park is the arrival of high technology companies,
notably those specialising in nuclear industry, such as Cavendish Nuclear
which has leased 4,380 sq metres (47,149 sq ft) in the refurbished 106
O’Rourke said: “Last year was extremely successful for us and I am
glad to say this has continued in 2017. Despite market uncertainties we
have continued to see a high level of demand from businesses looking
to set up in the North West, ranging from start-ups and SMEs to global
corporations.” Of particular note is the interest from international groups.
O’Rourke noted the strong interest for the remaining space (the
occupancy rate is 94%) would mean a successful year and for the future
there are 65,030 sq metres (700,000 sq ft) of development land with
outline planning permission providing potential for bespoke office or
What is often forgotten about the park is that during the Second World
War this was an RAF base leased to the US that handled the arrival of
over 11,000 planes from the United States and had a huge population
of military personnel, many of them skilled aircraft engineers with the
facilities that went with the work.
, one of the best known figures in the Manchester
property industry, has joined CBRE as a consultant, bringing 35
years’ experience to the firm. He was involved in many high profile
schemes in the city such as the Piccadilly Mayfield regeneration
scheme for London & Continental Railways, Transport for Greater
Manchester and Manchester City Council as well as numerous city
centre office schemes such as Great Bridgewater.