Jonathan Schofield takes a wry look at some stories in the property world
An opinionated monthly look at some of the stories that caught our eye in the property world including goings-on in Salford, Manchester and Trafford.
House by Urban Splash in deep water
The fall of House by Urban Splash is one of the saddest property stories of the month. The modular housing company has done a lot of good work in our region including houses in New Islington and at Irwell Riverside in Salford. The reason given behind the failure was “operational issues” at its factory in Alfreton, Derbyshire. 160 people have been made redundant.
House by Urban Splash was a joint venture of 48% each between Urban Splash and Japanese modular company Sekisui. Government-owned Homes England held the other 4%. Urban Splash has stated quite clearly the collapse of the company has had no impact on the other parts of the Urban Splash group or its operations, meanwhile, Homes England has said they will continue to work with “ambitious and innovative partners”. The directors of Urban Splash House Holdings Group have appointed administrators from Teneo. In this developing story, some of those who have been made redundant are seeking legal redress over the manner in which they were made redundant which was through a Microsoft Teams meeting.
Colliers Yard starting to tickle the clouds
The rise of the towers is becoming more conspicuous as Renaker’s Colliers Yard tower in Greengate climbs towards its 50-storey topping out. That’s around 155m or over 500ft, somewhat taller than the nearby Anaconda Cut which is 44 storeys or 130m (428ft). Colliers Yard will be the fifth tallest building in Greater Manchester when completed and will be known as Cortland at Colliers Yard after investment from an American company called, of course, Cortland. It will have over 550 one and two-bedroom apartments, with 25,000 sq ft of amenity space inside the typical skyscraper device of a three-storey podium. The latter will be faced in brick to soften and humanise its relation to ground-level. The design is by OMI Architects and the building will be finished in 2024 by which time somebody may have located the missing apostrophe. Is it one collier or more we’re looking for with this development?
Public realm proposals in Greengate looking good
The landscaping around Colliers Yard will be a crucial element. It's an integral part of the future of Greengate area of Salford. There's a pocket park going in next door, to the south. This is on the former site of the Bible Christian church and its graveyard. Visitors here will never be alone. That site is still packed with several thousand dead. On the north side, a new street and public realm will be created leading to the retained façade from 1855 of the elegant Italianate baths designed by prominent Manchester architect Thomas Worthington (Albert Memorial, Minshull Street courts etc). We're promised, "A tree-lined boulevard and square [with] a variety of local, independent operators with restaurants, cafes and bars at street level." Sounds good. Bring it on. Out of shot in the image above is another old building, The Eagle pub, which has effectively been barricaded off from its public by the building works. In compensation, developers Renaker should pay for every clocking-off construction worker to have a pint in the Eagle before leaving the area and thus help make up for the trade they have taken from the fine boozer.
Councillor Bob Clarke doesn't like getting high
Not so long ago a Salford Conservative councillor for Boothstown and Ellenbrook, Bob Clarke, decided to don his fusty old “ee-it-were-better-in-my-day” hat and have a rant. He said about the Greengate area which includes Colliers Yard: "Just look out at the complete and utter devastation. It's grim. It's the grimmest place on Earth. In generations to come, just like in my hometown of Birmingham, they'll stand back and say, 'What the hell did we do with all this concrete and glass? It's awful. There's no heritage. It's just all gone. It's just boring."
This is an opinion I hear a lot although the over-the-top nature of this rant makes one wonder if Cllr Clarke wasn't on his eighth double whisky. Yes, question the rents people are paying, question if many of the new flats shouldn’t be a minimum of 25% larger, but please don't question it in Bob C’s lazy way? Instead go and look for yourself. Take a walk from Manchester Cathedral over the footbridge into Salford and then into Greengate, do that, say, early evening and feel the life returning, see the lighted flats, take note of the younger workers who've taken up residence, have a drink in the Eagle or the re-opened and excellent Black Friar. Clearly, Bob C has never taken that walk, otherwise, he might have noted how vibrancy has returned to a forgotten and rundown area. He might also note that the "heritage" hasn't all disappeared and that nostalgia's not what it used to be.
A bridge of flowers in Salford
Staying in Salford, let’s move up Chapel Street to Frederick Road. Salford Rise, as it’s called, has been given £13m of levelling-up money to provide a “220m tree-lined pedestrian and cycle route with landscaping and adjacent spaces for events.” It will also include a 90m elevated parkland bridge spanning Frederick Road which looks absolutely fabulous on plan. The architects are Londen practice Make together with Altrincham landscape maestros PlanitIE. Oliver Hall of Make has said: “Salford Rise will deliver 2.5ha of public space with cycle lanes and routes connected into it. It’s a moment in time that allows us to develop a pedestrian-focused heart to this scheme and prioritise connectivity and people over buildings and uses.” The works are part of a £2.5bn masterplan for the Crescent and University of Salford area.
Old Trafford plans around old Kellogg's HQ moving ahead
The development of the 12 acre former Kellogg’s site adjacent to Lancashire cricket club in Old Trafford is progressing. The old Kellogg’s HQ is now the college UA92, affiliated with Lancaster University. We’ve already had Bruntwood Works and Trafford Council team up in a joint venture here to lead the development of what’s branded as Lumina Village. Subsequently, Glenbrook was appointed to bring forward a residential scheme which will have 600 apartments and 53 townhouses. These will be designed by architects Sheppard Robson. Expect six blocks of residences some as high as 20 storeys, the height having caused a stir locally. Most of the units will be for rent with a little under 200 homes for sale. There’ll also be more than 5000 sq ft of retail. As part of Lumina it’s intended Bruntwood Works and Trafford Council will also provide offices, a primary school and a 100-bedroom hotel.
The name Lumina raises another eyebrow about how developers name projects. Yes, if you stretch things it can mean "to illuminate" but it is also the plural of "lumen" which can mean (and was the first suggestion on a Google search), "the central cavity of a tubular or other hollow structure in an organism or cell". Not ideal property marketing then.
Modernists no longer in pieces over fate of University mosaic
With the ID Masterplan for the University of Manchester’s North Campus there will be casualties. Mainly these will be the Brutalist sixties buildings which when designed came loaded with the art of the time. One particularly colourful work was by German artist Hans Tisdall. It's a mosaic entitled "The Alchemist’s Elements" from 1967 with, please note Colliers Yard, a correct use of an apostrophe. The mosaic was housed on the doomed Faraday Building but has now been relocated to the exterior of the Schuster Building in Brunswick Park. This is a short walk from the original University of Manchester building on Oxford Road. The work on installing The Alchemist's Elements has not quite been completed but it’s looking colourful and splendid already. The Faraday Building housed the Chemistry Department so was an apt location given the artwork’s title, as is the Schuster building with its role as the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
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