Towers, footballers, cheese and mad Swiss authors: Property is a funny old game

Manchester property roundup taking a weekly look at what's hitting the headlines with regional schemes. This week a footballer comes home in a bricks and mortar kind of way.

Cristiano Ronaldo arrives in Piccadilly

It’ll probably have more mirrors than any other hotel in Europe as the celebrity involved loves to reflect upon himself. No doubt the waiters will be toned and walk around topless. Intricate dribbling will be allowed but if you cross the line there will be VAR in the bar.

Yes, the Pestana Hotel CR7 group with footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, as both promoter and partner, is expected to hit the back of the Manchester planning committee net. In a joint venture scheme between Eastern Estates and Pestana CR7 a 150 room hotel will be delivered at the Piccadilly junction with Newton Street. The architects are Feilden Clegg Bradley (FCB), a practice which is carving a real niche for itself in Manchester.

2020 11 13 Prop Roundup Cr7 2
A handsome building for Piccadilly: the Pestana CR7

Two of our favourite examples of work from FCB include the School of Art at MMU and Murray’s Mill in Ancoats. This Piccadilly hotel scheme will require both the new build and conversion skills demonstrated in the latter projects. The completely buggered up 19th century buildings, at 67 Piccadilly and immediately to the rear, will have to be removed and then an 11 storey replacement married to the delightfully handsome Venetian Gothic building next door at 69 Piccadilly. 

The new tower is a striking design with a handsome repetition of windows forming arcades and thus referring to the older neighbour. Confidential likes this one and thinks 11 storeys is certainly not too tall in this location and in this context. The present introduction from Piccadilly into the NQ from Newton Street is particularly dowdy. This scheme will offer some pzazz. 

2020 11 13 Prop Roundup Cr7 Lisbon 3
The Lisbon Pestana CR7 Hotel
2020 11 13 Prop Roundup Cr7 Lisbon
The bar in the Lisbon Pestana CR7 hotel - something similar for Manchester perhaps?

Ronaldo's posh hotel and hard-drinking

A bit of a puzzler with the 65-75 Piccadilly scheme concerns the Piccadilly Tavern. This occupies the ground floor of the building which will be retained. Apparently the Piccadilly Tavern will close and then reopen subsequent to completion of the building work. Interesting. The Picc Tavern is a good strong fighting pub, a bit hard, a bit tough, a match day pub. The latter might be appropriate for a hotel with a footballer in a 50:50 financial partnership but not quite the luxury item that necessarily fits a 4 star Pestana CR7 hotel.

The hotel group has already opened in Funchal (in Ronaldo’s home island of Madeira) and Lisbon. Other hotels in the group are due to open in Madrid, New York and Marrakech. 

None of the CR7 portfolio existing or proposed appear to feature a downstairs operator with quite the character of the Piccadilly Tavern. 

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The Piccadilly Tavern

Maybe Ronaldo still appreciates a bit of northern grit from his time as a Manchester United star. If so, good on him. Maybe the multi-millionaire appreciates a 2-4-1 line-up as opposed to 4-4-2. 

The CR7 styling by the way refers to the number Cristiano Ronaldo sports on his football shirts. 

2020 11 13 Prop Roundup Cr7 Lisbon 2
After a night in the Piccadilly Tavern one could settle down into a Pestana CR7 bedroom upstairs like this one in Lisbon

Tower of the week: 39 Deansgate

This Sheppard Robson-designed scheme is probably about to put the cat amongst the pigeons in the St Ann’s Square Conservation Area. The blandly brutal existing building with its step back and podium construction is to disappear replaced by a 17 storey tower with 135k square feet of commercial space.

The new tower looks pretty good and nobody will miss the 1963 concrete lump it replaces but the height is a concern as it will lord it over the lovely glass filigree domes of the Barton Arcade. The owners of the latter aren’t happy, nor are the residents in No 1 Deansgate as the proposal will match the height of their building and block views. It will also deny them access to their nearest Greggs which occupies the ground floor of the present 39 Deansgate. Confidential concedes that the proximity to a steak bake is probably not their primary concern.

Historic England have also said they aren’t keen on the scale of the new tower, but the City’s planning department thinks the new structure will have ‘neutral impact’. Neutral. Not a good word for aspirational architecture. 

Thing is this tower isn't 'neutral' at all neither in scale nor design, although the former will conceal the bare backside of one of the Barton Arcade elevations. It also has to be said the new building does turn the corner to Deansgate with a certain panache. When columns in Classical architecture rise through two storeys rather than one it's called a 'giant order'. Here Sheppard Robson have delivered a 'giant order' 

2020 11 13 Prop Roundup 39 Deansgate 1
Detail of the Deansgate/ St Mary's Gate corner of the proposed 39 Deansgate, with its racy inverted 'V'.
2020 11 14 Prop Roundup Speakers House
The existing 1963 building that will go to make room for the new tower.

Weir Mill to boost Stockport

Away from the city centre, these images look grand. Capital & Centric are set to deliver a mixed-use community at Weir Mill under the shadow of Stockport’s defining railway viaduct. The company is asking for interested parties to opine about their updated plans following much initial enthusiasm.

Big plans these. Capital & Centric is proposing ‘a new town centre community with 254 one, two and three bed apartments’. There will be 87 apartments in the existing mill buildings and 167 in the two new buildings. In addition there will be 24,000 square feet of commercial space.

2020 11 13 Prop Roundup Weir Mill Water Front
The River Mersey side of Weir Mill

The old mill buildings are important in terms of the story of textile production in the North West. Weir Mill started as a water powered cotton factory more than 220 years ago, hence its proximity to the River Mersey. There’s part of the original water wheel still extant. The good news is that many of these original features will be retained. 

The whole scheme will be enhanced by public areas, some by the riverside, with the ambition to animate these areas with events. At the same time there will be ‘cycling parking and new walking and cycling links to the town centre and train station, the proposed £120m Stockport Interchange and the Trans Pennine way that runs alongside the site’. 

Consultation ends on 2 December (with lockdown one hopes). The best way to get involved is through There’s an online Q&A Wednesday 18 November 2020, details again through the website. 

2020 11 13 Prop Roundup Weavers Square
The proposed Weavers' Square at Weir Mill incorporating original iron piers

Stockport rising 

The big task over the next decade or so is to get the medium-sized town centres bursting with energy. Stockport has big plans and some natural and manmade assets with an entertaining up and down geography and some fine buildings. The excellent Weir Mill scheme is part of the £1bn town centre regeneration plan. It is one of the first projects to come forward in the new Town Centre West regeneration zone, which hopes to deliver 3,500 new homes and amenities, 1,000,000 square feet of employment, retail, leisure, health and education space, and create over 5,000 new jobs. Here’s hoping. The ambition matches that of Rochdale on the other side of Greater Manchester as reported here

2020 11 13 Prop Roundup Weir Mill East
Another view of Weir Mill showing the proposed new tower

Apartments built on cheese

The Cheshire Cheese pub has gone mouldy. 

The Oldham Road boozer, long boarded up and closed, at the junction with Cornell Street, and with an empty strip of land to its south, has been demolished and the site is to be filled with something else. So have a guess. Will its replacement be an all-night roller-disco, a beard museum, a rocket base or maybe a 38 apartment scheme over seven storeys? You got it, apartments (although maybe a seven storey beard museum would become an international visitor attraction).

The developer is Northhold Group and the scheme will be called Deluna. Deluna? Would somebody please explain? Is it to do with the Middleton moon raker story? 

Deluna will have a mix of one and two bedroom flats and shops at ground level. The architects are AEW Architects. Despite the fact the Cheshire Cheese pub has disappeared you can still buy Cheshire Cheese in many retail outlets within the vicinity. 

2020 11 13 Prop Roundup Oldham Road
It's called mysteriously Deluna and it's going to be apartments

Crazy scheme in Blackpool progressing and video of the week

Ok it’s not in Greater Manchester but there's Manchester involvement. We're talking the mad £300m scheme called The Chariots of Gods presently progressing in Blackpool. It might take 8-9 years to fully ‘unlock the development opportunity’ but it should add a spring to the step of the seaside resort as it forms. 

The theme comes courtesy of the Swiss nutcase, Eric Von Daniken, who thought aliens had kick-started human ingenuity. Von Daniken's immensely popular books from the sixties and seventies were mind-bogglingly daft but never failed to grip the imagination as they ranged over every continent explaining how so many of the most famous monuments were crafted by extraterrestrial hands. The material was all very much Indiana Jones but the fantasy inherent in the subject matter is perfect for Blackpool

2020 11 13 Prop Roundup Chariots Of The Gods
The Chariot of the Gods. It's what Blackpool is all about.

The Manchester connection to this comes from the collaboration between Media Investment Entertainment and Manchester-based Nikal Ltd to deliver the vast scheme. 

And it is massive. The site, called Blackpool Central, is 17 acres in size.The ambition for The Chariot of the Gods is to attract 600,000 visitors annually spending £75m. Bring it on. 

Here's some more information.

Also read - Schemes that could have changed Manchester: 1000ft Communications Tower and a Sex Olympia