Property round-up: McCarthy Stone; Birkenhead Market; Birchwood Park; Sciontec; Countryside Partnerships; MattressTek; Catella APAM; Liberty

McCarthy Stone's Chester plans

McCarthy Stone has submitted plans to Cheshire West and Chester Council to transform land adjacent to the Shot Tower into a high quality retirement living community, helping to meet the critical need for specialist homes for local older people.

The plans would deliver a mix of 56 one- and two-bedroom retirement living apartments, set within landscaped grounds, and sufficient on-site car parking. The site is an ideal location for this type of accommodation, in the city centre, close to many shops, cafes and public transport connections, says the company.

Ahead of submitting a planning application, McCarthy Stone carried out a public consultation with the local community on its initial proposals, feedback from which has helped to inform the submitted plans.

Ian Wilkins, divisional managing director at McCarthy Stone North, said: “Our proposals for Chester would help to address a demand for retirement accommodation in the area, providing housing choice for local older people, whilst also freeing up the wider housing market for local families and first-time buyers further down the chain.”

If approved, residents of this development would help to support a thriving and vibrant Chester city centre. Independent research by WPI Economics determined that residents of a 56-home McCarthy Stone development would be expected to generate around £432,000 of spending on the local high street.

McCarthy Stone’s plans have now been submitted to Cheshire West and Chester Council and will be determined by the authority in the coming months. On the submission of the planning application, Ian Wilkins added: “As recognised in the Local Plan, there is a real need for specialist retirement accommodation in Chester. We look forward to working closely with Cheshire West and Chester Council to progress these proposals and to address this local need.”


Grange Road view of new Birkenhead Market

Wirral Growth Company (WGC) – a 50:50 joint venture between Wirral Council and nationwide placemaker, Muse – is inviting people to share their views on their emerging design ideas for the new Birkenhead Market on the site of the former House of Fraser store.

The proposals being put forward would see the House of Fraser building demolished and the creation of a standalone market, complete with independent retail, food and beverage stalls and new accessible public spaces linked into St Werburgh’s Square and Oliver Street East.

The new market has been designed to recapture the historic spirit of the 1845 market, through the creation of a thriving hub of activity in the town centre. The vision is to deliver a stand out sustainable development that supports established and aspiring local businesses and provides a new destination for shopping, leisure, culture and community events.

The current market will continue to be open for business as usual and will stay there and remain trading as normal until the new market is complete. One to one discussions with traders will take place alongside consultation with the public. Chair of Wirral Council’s economy, regeneration and development committee, Cllr Tony Jones, said: “A key part of our redevelopment plans for Birkenhead town centre has always been the market. It is vital that local people get involved, to help us shape a revitalised and vibrant town centre. As we move forward with our plans, I encourage everyone to get involved and have their say.”

Consultation events will take place at BirkenEd’s Place, 8-10 Borough Pavements in the Grange Precinct on Thursday, March 9, from 11am-4.30pm, and Saturday, March 11, from 11am-4pm.

There are also opportunities for people to have their say online, via from March 9, to 26. Feedback on the emerging proposals will help to shape the planning application which is set to be submitted in early summer.


Birchwood Park

Birchwood Park, the North West’s largest out-of-town business destination, has seen a 94% retention rate in 2022, the sixth consecutive year above 90%.

The retention rate has been welcomed by the lettings team at the park, which has had to overcome a challenging period due to COVID restrictions making many businesses across the North West and the wider country reconsider their office plans and downsizing in capacity.

Birchwood Park has also expanded its engineering roster in the past 12 months, with construction engineers Richter, and international system engineers SEMP, among the new list of occupiers to expand their services to the park.

Recent investment into the nuclear industry brings opportunities for Birchwood Park. For decades Birchwood Park has been at the centre of a world class cluster of nuclear engineering, home to companies such as Jacobs, Cavendish Nuclear, NNL, Nuvia and Rolls-Royce.

Recently, the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) settled at its new home in Birchwood Park, signifying a huge milestone in the park’s expanding nuclear hub. With a wide range of warehouse and office spaces available, the park is hoping to see businesses in the nuclear sector continue to grow its offering and take up greater occupancy going forward.

Martin O’Rourke, commercial director of Birchwood Park, said: “Despite a challenging year for the North West commercial property space, we’re proud to report an incredibly strong retention rate alongside a number of new, world class engineering firms relocating to the park.”


The Spine, in KQ Liverpool

Sciontec has experienced a strong start to the year, thanks to a flurry of new lettings across its two Liverpool sites.

Seven businesses, working within the digital, technology and professional services sectors, have signed workspace leases with Sciontec at Liverpool Science Park (LSP) and the Sciontec AI serviced space in The Spine.

George Barclay, acting head of property, FM and operations at Sciontec, said: “It is fantastic to be experiencing such a high demand for our office and coworking spaces.

“Coworking options, in particular, are becoming increasingly popular for businesses wanting flexibility from their workspaces, and our range of hot desk options provide a hybrid solution for those organisations requiring a mix of high quality workspaces alongside a dynamic business community, which are affordable and straightforward to manage.”

One of Sciontec’s new customers, MyCardium AI, has taken space at both of Sciontec’s locations. As a result of their recent expansion drive, the MedTech scale-up now occupies a 730 sq ft private office at LSP and holds a Sciontec AI Flexi Space membership in The Spine.

Antony Shimmin, chief operating officer at MyCardium AI, said: “We have worked closely with Sciontec to find the best model of workspace to satisfy our business needs. Having enough space for our team to come together, while having the flexibility to use different locations is a real advantage for us.”

Other new Sciontec AI customers include Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure, which occupies project team space for six employees, as well as Marks & Clerk and Hive Projects, who have all taken up the Flexi Space coworking membership.

Just a short walk away at Liverpool Science Park, Inceptial Technologies UK and eLando AD are now co-working space occupiers, in addition to FS Waste signing up for Virtual Plus Membership.

Momita Saha Choudhury, director at Inceptial Technologies UK, said: “Choosing to locate our HQ at Liverpool Science Park will enable us to better serve the IT and digital industry. We were really impressed with the facilities offered by Sciontec and we will certainly benefit from their close links with the local talent pool.”

Sciontec’s new customers are already embedding themselves in the Knowledge Quarter Liverpool (KQ Liverpool) innovation ecosystem, by engaging with the newly launched KQ Liverpool Innovation & Growth Services programmes, utilising the local networks and attending community events.

Georgi Tonchev, chief business development officer at eLando AD, said: “The soft landing support provided through KQ Base has enabled us to open our first Liverpool base. Having a high quality workspace in Liverpool will enhance our presence in the North of England, enabling us to grow our engineering team locally, and better engage with the UK FinTech community.”



Countryside Partnerships has completed 56 new extra care apartments at Wharfdale in Leigh, and handed over the new facility to Wigan Council.

The apartments have been specifically designed for elderly residents, with all of the homes available via affordable rent through the council.

The centre also provides a range of on-site facilities, including a communal lounge, assisted bathroom, reading room and scooter store, alongside new landscaped gardens and electric vehicle charging points. The project was delivered with the support of Homes England grant funding.

Ian Hilliker, managing director of Countryside Partnerships Merseyside and Cheshire West, said: “We’re committed to building affordable homes across the UK, and that includes quality affordable homes for older people, too. We’re pleased to have worked with Wigan Council to deliver this new extra care facility, which will help to serve the local community for many years to come.”

Cllr Susan Gambles, cabinet portfolio holder for housing and welfare at Wigan Council, said: “I had the privilege of visiting Wharfdale Extra Care just before people started to move in, and it really is an incredible development.

“Every apartment is fully self-contained, built with an energy efficient ground source heat pump, and heat recovery in place to redirect heat from warm rooms to cooler ones, and underfloor heating. This will all help to keep residents’ energy bills low.”


Experts in production line automation for the mattress, bed and component processing sectors, machinery manufacturer MattressTek, has agreed with Lancashire landlord BE Boys to expand into the neighbouring unit to its existing one, taking its footprint from 16,000 sq ft to almost 22,000 sq ft.

This means that the factory, at Forest Mill in Water, Rossendale – currently the shopfloor used to accommodate the fabrication, build and electrical departments, along with an office, meeting room and break-out area – will allow the new unit to house a showroom for stand out machines in its range, as well as those in development, ready for testing in anticipation of customer visits from the UK, US and across the globe.

Technical director, Shaun Peel, said: “Our growth and demand, to cater to our international customers, through our export pursuits, has meant that we have kept our eyes out for a suitable space to physically expand.

“The fact that the unit next door at our current site has now become available is a great opportunity to further grow at our current location, following the addition of an office, canteen, stock store and mezzanine for our electrical team. We look forward to welcoming customers to our site from across America, Australia, Asia, Europe and here in the UK.”



Catella APAM has completed a deal with Strativ Group, a global recruitment agency, at Corner Block in Manchester.

Strativ has signed on for five years on the fourth floor covering 5,000 sq ft and joins software company OneFile, Search Consultancy, Arch Europe, and Resource Solutions Group.

APAM acquired the asset, on behalf of Britannia Invest A/S, in October 2020, and began a refurbishment of the building’s large, open and flexible floorplate which spans six floors. Located prominently at the intersection of Deansgate and Quay Street in the heart of Manchester and with good access to Spinningfields, Corner Block is surrounded by a number of established occupiers in the tech, digital and creative sectors, with the wider area having evolved into a media hub in recent years.

Andrew Day, senior asset manager at APAM, said: “Following the completion of our extensive refurbishment of the vacant units and amenity provision, we are delighted with the response from the market.

“The refurbishment brought forward best in class office provision with strong ESG credentials and the success has been demonstrated by the recent letting to OneFile and now Strativ Group. We are excited to welcome them both to Cornerblock.”

Sixteen Real Estate acted for APAM in the deal, while Knight Frank represented Strativ Group.

Scott Shufflebottom, director at Sixteen Real Estate, said: “Strativ committing to Cornerblock for the foreseeable future is testament to the quality of both the product and the excellent location. We have excellently specified suites ranging from 3,200 sq ft up to one remaining full floor of 9,193 sq ft remaining.”


Property services business Liberty has won three new contracts to improve homes across the North of England, worth more than £3m per annum.

Liberty, which offers whole-house property services nationally, has been awarded the new work across the North of England.

The business has secured work with housing provider Thirteen Group, awarded via the Fusion21 framework.

Looking after more than 2,800 homes across the North East and Yorkshire, Liberty’s team will deliver general property repairs and maintenance and void support to Thirteen Group’s DLO to build on their repairs and maintenance processes, to help provide a great customer experience for Thirteen Group’s tenants.

Thirteen Group has also taken on Liberty’s services for heating repairs and maintenance for over 1,300 homes across the North East, where Liberty will carry out the servicing and repairs of existing heating systems, and the installation of new systems where required.

The contracts, which sees Liberty and Thirteen Group working together for the first time, are worth up to a combined £2.7m per annum and will last for an initial two years with the possibility to be extended for up to two additional years.

In addition, housing association Riverside has also awarded Liberty a major heating and compliance contract for the servicing, repairs, and maintenance in commercial plant rooms for more than 260 blocks of homes in the North East and Cumbria. The work starts in February with the initial contract term of three years, and the option to extend for up to two additional years.

As part of the contract, Liberty’s team will carry out annual stock condition surveys as Riverside looks to create a plan to replace boilers with alternative, more energy-efficient heating systems.

Ray Jones, group managing director at Liberty, said: “These new contracts are a fantastic start to 2023 for Liberty, and are testament to the value we add for clients nationwide. I’m pleased to be expanding our services with Riverside and look forward to a successful new partnership with Thirteen Group.”

Liberty offers the full range of property services, and are experts in heating and compliance services, reactive and planned maintenance across all technical disciplines, refurbishments, mechanical and electrical projects, construction, and whole-home decarbonisation.

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