Bricks & Mortar part 8 - a new type of architecture, property and planning roundup for Manchester

Observatory building lifted from obscurity

A £1 million refurbishment of office building 10 Chapel Walks in Manchester city centre has been completed by Swedish-based Artmax Properties. Formerly known as The Observatory, the grade-A building – built in 1998 – is located on Cross Street with additional frontages to both Cheapside and Chapel Walks. It was acquired by Artmax from the Universities Superannuation Scheme for £20 million in September last year and extends to 55,138 square feet, with just over 18,000 square feet of space still available and the sixth floor, totalling 7,008 square feet, under offer.

2019 10 04 Property 10 Chapel Walks

The refurbishment works – project managed by CBRE – have included a new reception area and remodelled workspace, along with new showers and a bike store in the basement. Toby Nield, associate in the letting agent Cushman & Wakefield’s office agency team, describes The Observatory as a ‘sleeping giant’ of Manchester city centre, but Artmax has rejuvenated the building. He says: “They have taken the asset from obscurity and it is now a case study for how to reposition a building within a market. The refurbishment and rebrand is of the highest quality – 10 Chapel Walks has the look and feel that will appeal to sectors of all occupiers.”

Plan B for former Stockport M&S

It’s good news for the ongoing regeneration of Stockport town centre as the vacant Marks & Spencer, closed since April 2018, has been acquired for alternative office and leisure usage. Property development and investment company Glenbrook has completed the acquisition of the former M&S store in Merseyway Shopping Centre and, working with architects AEW, plans to transform the building for new occupiers, also retaining a retail element.

2019 10 04 Property Stockport Ms

Situated within the shopping centre located on Stockport’s Great Underbank, the scheme comprises 80,551 square feet over the lower ground, ground and two larger upper floors. The firm will immediately undertake an extensive strip-out of the building with a view to launching a brand identity for the new scheme next month. Glenbrook investment director Chris Lloyd says: “The former M&S store represents a significant piece in the Merseyway Shopping Centre jigsaw. The building’s size, configuration and location lends itself to a mixed-use scheme, with the upper floors being best suited for office use, whilst the lower ground floor area will no doubt appeal to a wide range of leisure uses.”

Scandi store set to open in the city centre

The Grade II-listed Royal Exchange building has acquired a new store as Danish retail chain Søstrene Grene opens its doors in the prestigious location on bustling Cross Street on October 11. The homeware brand sells contemporary and affordable Scandi furnishings and crafts, which it describes as ‘refined and innovative product ranges, chosen on the basis of being both practical and aesthetically pleasing’.  

The Manchester city centre store is the latest in Søstrene Grene’s 250-strong portfolio across Europe, and was advised on the lease of the the 3,000 square feet space by Manchester-based Forbes Solicitors. Helen Marsh, a partner in Forbes’ commercial property team, advised the retailer on acquiring the former Nationwide Building Society base. She says: “This is the second store I have advised Søstrene Grene on in the Manchester area, the first one being Altrincham. I am delighted to see the business continuing to go from strength to strength and wish them all the best with the opening of this new store.”

2019 10 04 Property Sostrene Grene

New ‘home’ work for old school

The site of the former Hulme Hall Grammar School in Cheadle Hulme looks set to be redeveloped for residential use. The buildings on Beech Avenue in the popular residential suburb in Cheshire have remained vacant and dilapidated since the school relocated to new premises in Davenport in July 2017. Now, acting on behalf of joint applicants Seddon Developments and PH Property Holdings, Manchester-based P4 Planning has submitted a full planning application to Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council for a new residential development, comprising 37 homes. The application incorporates a total of 16 two and three bed apartments and 21 houses ranging from two to five bedrooms.

2019 10 04 Property Hulme Hall Grammar School

Consultation with the surrounding community has generated considerable support for the scheme, with more than 75% of responses in favour of the proposal. Almost a third of responses to the public exhibition registered an interest in buying a property at the new scheme, reflecting the need to deliver more housing in Stockport. The 1.6 hectare brownfield site is within walking distance of Cheadle Hulme district centre and train station.

P4 Planning associate Charlotte Fowler says: “The Hulme Hall Grammar School site is a fantastic location, sitting within a predominantly residential area which will benefit from the new homes and transformation provided by this scheme. We have been particularly keen to get this application submitted as permission is required to demolish the old school buildings which lie in a conservation area and have recently become a focus for anti-social behaviour. We are, therefore, seeking approval so the demolition and redevelopment of the site can commence as soon as possible.”