Property round-up: Talbot Gateway; Trinity Office Park; JV North; Swift Temps; Winckley Street; CapitalCentric; Seddon
A new home for the UK Government in the heart of Blackpool is starting to take shape.
The building façades are now being installed at the £100m, seven-storey Civil Service Hub, as part of the Talbot Gateway development close to Blackpool North train station.
The terracotta faced ultra-high strength concrete façade panels, which are highly sustainable and help reduce the building’s embodied carbon, will feature across the exterior of the building and create an impressive Art Deco appearance, in keeping with Blackpool’s architectural heritage within the town centre.
The Civil Service Hub will see more than 3,000 government workers relocating to Blackpool town centre when it completes in 2025, supporting the wider £350m redevelopment of the area which also involves new Grade A offices, a hotel and transport interchange and a new Multiversity campus.
The site, which will include a new town centre square with cycle and pedestrian routes, is within walking distance of the new tram interchange at Blackpool North Station, promoting more sustainable travel routes.
Cllr Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Not only is the Civil Service Hub changing the skyline of Blackpool, but the potential impact on the local economy of bringing over 3,000 more professional workers into the town centre is a key part of our plans to make Blackpool better. This will be another high quality office building that brings people into the town centre. For local people and businesses in the surrounding areas, there is a real opportunity to benefit from having that volume of workers on their doorstep.
“This office is only one element of the wider regeneration we have at the Talbot Gateway, with the Holiday Inn hotel and Marco Pierre White restaurant set to open next year along with the tram extension to the train station, and our plans to bring up to 3,000 staff and students into the area as part of the Multiversity campus.”
The long-standing partnership between Muse and Blackpool Council, has already delivered the 125,000 sq. ft Number One Bickerstaffe Square council office, a Sainsbury’s supermarket and a refurbished 650-space multi-storey car park, alongside extensive public spaces.
Alan McBride, Technical Director at Muse, said: “We have reached a wonderfully visual milestone in Talbot Gateway’s regeneration, with the terracotta panels in particular emphasising how we’re creating a brighter Blackpool while being sympathetic to the town’s rich cultural heritage.”
Gary Hughes, Regional Director at VINCI Building, said: “Working closely with Blackpool Council, MUSE and their design team has enabled us to utilise some of the most modern construction methods available in delivering the Civil Service Hub. This is helping us to reduce carbon emissions during construction, through the materials selected and by reducing deliveries, while creating a more efficient building operationally.”
Elsewhere in Blackpool, plans have been given the go ahead to start work on renovating Stanley Buildings, one of the town’s historic locally listed buildings, into a business hub for start-up and small businesses.
The £7.5m project will convert vacant and derelict upper floor space into 44 modern offices and state of the art meeting facilities, creating a vibrant home for small businesses. The development is part of wider plans to make the town centre more attractive to residents, businesses and investors, and is being funded by a combination of £4.5m from the Town Deal, £2.8m from the council and £200k from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Trinity Office Park in Warrington has welcomed its first new occupier following a rebrand through Tandem Investments earlier this year.
The scheme comprises three office buildings which previously housed construction group Galliford Try and EOS Solutions. Following occupier departures at the start of 2023, however, Tandem Investments, alongside its property marketing team, set out to reposition the scheme within in the local office market in order to attract new occupiers.
Richard Rees, director, and asset manager at Tandem Investments, said: “Skillray has purchased our 9,844 sq ft building, plus a small storage building, for their own occupation, which is something we were always prepared to entertain.
“Looking forward, we have almost completed a comprehensive refurbishment of Building Two, which is a 10,162 sq ft self-contained building, that has been specified to a high standard. We are working towards an A Rating Energy Performance Certification and anticipate the leasehold demand in Warrington turning its head to this property. We can accommodate occupier requirements from 2,000 sq ft upwards.”
Simon Roddam, head of agency at BE Group and joint agent on Trinity, said: “On average 65% of office transactions in the Birchwood area come from local occupiers relocating within this micro-location. With the current flight-to-quality market trend, and a need for flexibility, we feel Trinity ticks a lot of boxes and will provide some very good quality office supply to a buoyant part of the Warrington office market.”
Trinity Office Park in Warrington now has Building Two (10,162 sq ft) and Building Three (4,459 sq ft) on the open market to let, although the current owners are prepared to consider interest from occupiers looking to buy their own office building. BE Group and Cushman & Wakefield acted as joint agents on behalf of Tandem Investments.
Liverpool-based Cobalt Housing has become the latest organisation to join North West housebuilding consortium JV North as it builds 1,000 homes by 2029.
The housing association, which already manages in the region of 6,000 homes, will design properties to be energy efficient, including features such as solar voltaic panels and air and ground source heat pumps so they produce 75-80% less carbon. This will complement the decarbonisation work already under way with existing Cobalt Housing properties.
As a full JV North member, Cobalt Housing will have a seat on the consortium’s decision making board and access to its £580m framework and Dynamic Purchasing System where it can appoint contractors and consultants.
Cobalt Housing’s Director of Development and Neighbourhoods, Louise Davies, said: “JV North has an excellent reputation and a proven track record with Homes England and social housebuilding organisations.
“With our development programme under way to build 1,000 properties, the timing is perfect for us to join as we embark on providing vital new homes for people in our communities.”
Chair of JV North, John Bowker, who is also Executive Director of Operations at Stockport Homes Group, said: “It is fantastic Cobalt Housing has joined as the consortium continues to grow and flourish.”
A rapidly growing recruitment firm with ten existing offices across the North West of England and West Midlands, has opened a new ‘IT Recruitment Hub’ in Preston.
Swift Temps recently moved into a new larger office at Preston Technology Centre to facilitate continued growth within the region and the company has made strategic managerial appointments to help cement the firm’s reputation with the IT recruitment industry.
The company claims to be one of the first firms in the industry to use artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline the recruitment process.
David Cottington is Managing Director at Swift Temps North West and set up the company in 2018 alongside business partners Damian Lee and Ross Wright. Having accrued more than 35 years of recruitment experience prior to starting his own business, Mr Cottington has now seen his business grow consistently over the past five years.
He said: “We’ve been working with businesses and job seekers in other sectors across Preston for a number of years now and our office here has gone from strength to strength and we know that IT recruitment is going to be a key growth area for 2024 and beyond.”
A Preston architect has created a new vision for one of the city’s most iconic streets – Winckley Street.
John Bridge, director and founder of Studio John Bridge Architects, created the designs following previous efforts made by local traders to maintain the street’s pedestrianisation status that appeared – and were removed – under government regulations during the COVID pandemic.
The new vision, which includes a sustainable eco-design glass canopy enabling all-year round outdoor service, would see vehicles other than deliveries for local traders and nearby residents excluded, while reintroducing historically important pedestrian gates onto the street.
If implemented, John says the vision would see the street become a pillar of the city’s day and night-time economy, providing an incentive for consumers to visit and stay in the city centre all-year-round.
Jake Suthers of the QS Company, who has been assisting with the vision for the street, has estimated that the cost of the project, including the ‘Green Canopy’, would cost in the region of £400,000 to half a million pounds.
John said: “During the coronavirus pandemic, Winckley Street benefited from something of a renaissance with the street being closed off to cars and other traffic, and businesses able to offer outdoor seating without the inconvenience of vehicles passing by – not to mention the fantastic weather we had at the time.
“Unfortunately, those temporary measures were removed – when the lockdown ended – and, like many small businesses in the current economic climate, traders on Winckley Street are now suffering from a change in consumer attitudes as well as the inconvenience of cars and other vehicles impeding the ‘feel’ the street had during that period.”
He added: “I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to provide a new vision for Winckley Street that would enable traders to offer outdoor seating all year round and provide Preston with a nightlife anchor.
“The vision we have come up with will hopefully provide some food for thought for our city leaders to look at the street and, if the opportunity presents itself, think about whether further investment could bring this part of the city to life, bringing visitors in from across Lancashire which would complement our local economy, both day and night.”
The vision has been created in collaboration with former city councillor and campaigner, Daniel Dewhurst, who involved in the council’s application for funding to restore the Old Tram Bridge, which formed part of the city’s successful bid for funding earlier this year.
The vision has received the backing of local businesses on Winckley Street who say the street – and the city – needs a revival.
Manchester-based social impact developer Capital&Centric has given a sneak peek of the £60m transformation of the Weir Mill site, with the concrete frame of the 14-storey new apartment block building now at its highest point.
Nestled under the arches of Stockport’s viaduct, work on the repurposing of the sprawling heritage site is well under way. As well as the new build, the historic mill buildings – parts of which date back to the 1700s – are also undergoing painstaking restoration ready for the re-birth the site as a buzzing new neighbourhood.
It’s set to be a stand-out destination in Stockport’s Town Centre West masterplan – a 130-acre regeneration district being driven by Stockport MDC, which will see the delivery of 4,000 new homes, alongside local amenities, green spaces, new workspace and radical transport improvements.
The Capital&Centric team was joined at the top of the tower by Stockport Council and the Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC) to toast the moment.
Once complete in 2024, Weir Mill will deliver 253 design-led apartments new green outdoor space, and independent bars, restaurants and shops. Capital&Centric is planning to kick-start the hunt for indie operators to call the site home early in the new year, with early expressions of interest already coming in.
Adam Higgins, of Capital&Centric, said: “It’s all adding to the buzz around the town’s renaissance. In the last year Stockport has repeatedly been lauded as one of the best places for first time buyers, retirees and to invest in, as well as getting a name-check in the Sunday Times’s coveted Best Places To Live annual round-up.
“Weir Mill is such a historic site but it was in need of some major TLC. Since day one, our mission has been to restore and repurpose the stunning heritage buildings and create a destination neighbourhood that furthers Stockport’s standing as one of the best places to live and spend time.
“Not only are we well under way with delivering more design-led homes at a key brownfield site, we’re also on with creating outdoor hangouts and food and drink spaces that will all be open to the public and help draw a crowd into the town centre.”
More than 150 people are now working to deliver the project, with significant focus on preserving and celebrating the original features of the historic Grade II-listed landmark.
The University of Manchester has made a key step forward in its zero-carbon strategy with the £4m refurbishment of its Graham building.
Situated on the Victoria Park Campus, the build was completed by the property services division of Bolton-based contractor, Seddon. The project’s large scope entailed making vast improvements to the building’s thermal performance.
The build was completed shortly after the university launched its Environmental Sustainability Strategy, which provides guidance on the actions the university plans to take to reach its zero carbon 2038 target. A key focus within the strategy is construction and refurbishment, highlighting the university’s achievement of running on 100% renewable electricity. The Graham building refurbishment helps deliver improved thermal efficiency, as well as renewable energy sources, support the university in its efforts.
The project saw Seddon remove and replace all asbestos from the building, including ceiling tiles and Artex surface coating and connect mechanical and electric services to the ceiling. Extensive refurbishment works were also delivered across the accommodation, including bedrooms and circulation spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms.
The project included a three-storey extension, comprising a water tank room on the ground floor, bedroom spaces on the first floor and a plant room on the second floor. The improved plant room helps heat water far quicker, saving water wastage. Alongside the improved sizing of its 48 bedrooms, the extensions will greatly improve the student experience while maximising the energy efficiency and heat retention of the building.
Works on the student accommodation building began in January 2023. Seddon completed the project to schedule in mid-September ahead of the new academic year. With the eight-month project delivered across term time, Seddon had to adapt its processes to accommodate a live campus environment and establish clear lines of communication with stakeholders.
Sustainability features of the project include specialist composite windows, procured from Denmark, made from a combination of timber and aluminium for optimum performance. Solar panels have also been fixed to the roof to support the university’s 100% renewable electricity commitment.
John Shannon, managing director of property services at Seddon said: “We are pleased to have supported the University of Manchester in its efforts to achieve net zero. We completed this eight month project in a live environment, working to minimise disruption to students and staff. The works will greatly improve the building’s thermal capabilities, minimise the property’s running costs and offer impressive improvements to the student experience. It represents a vital step on the university’s journey towards carbon neutrality.”