Stockport steps out, MMU steps up, a Canadian pension fund steps in
Property roundup with confidence still being shown in university development, a friendly takeover from North America and hope for a major piece of heritage.
Canada-style deal for the Trafford Centre
The Trafford Centre has been bought by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) for a figure around £800 million. This appears a logical step because Intu, the company that owns the gaudy shopping centre, has been losing money quicker than a drunken gambler on pay day, and CPPIB are already a significant lender to the Trafford Centre. Three years ago the pension fund lent £250m to Intu secured on Dumplington’s domed wonder. Intu has more than £4.5bn of debt and went into administration in June.
It’s a symbol of the state of retail play that no credible bids have been offered for the Trafford Centre which just a year ago had a £1.7bn valuation. The result is that CPPIB have stepped in as a last resort which at least secures their established investment.
The curious thing about the world of high finance is that, in and of itself, the Trafford Centre is a very strong going concern despite Intu’s debt. It’s another curious thing about finance that all the millions of Trafford Centre shoppers (35m on a good year) will simply not notice the transition in any meaningful way despite the column inches devoted to it.
Hope for globally unique, Barton Swing Aqueduct
As we revealed in our story this week about the disgraceful state of the active heritage around Barton upon Irwell, a hop, a skip and a jump from the Trafford Centre, it’s looking good for one of the assets there. The globally unique swing aqueduct looks set to be the target of more than £4.8m of restoration funding, part of which will include the provision of a new walkway for both walkers and cyclists.
Member state (council) goes it alone with Greater Manchester Spatial Framework
Earlier this month it all went a bit Brexit for The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), the master plan for the future development of the county over the coming decades. This aims to deliver 180,000 new homes, with a small proportion on greenbelt land. An example of this is in Stockport where around 1.2% of the borough’s green belt might be affected. It’s a similar story in the other nine boroughs of Greater Manchester, with their respective green belts sometimes affected a little more than Stockport’s sometimes a little less.
Nine boroughs have approved the plan but Stockport has decided against adopting it. The debate in the town has been entertainingly passionate and forthright with those voting against GMSF claiming they are not NIMBYs just that they don’t like developments in their own backyard and would rather have them in other people’s backyards – or something like that. Meanwhile others in the council have called the naysayers ‘rotten fruit’.
The other nine councils have decided to carry on with the plans in an attempt to get a move on with providing desperately housing in Greater Manchester. Good, but the decision in Stockport means the tortuous GMSF process will have to be looked at again with nine member states…er… councils, rather than ten. To use a Star Trek analogy, for Stockport it appears, the needs of the many do not outweigh the needs of the one
Angel Meadow developments top out
Two medium scale towers overlooking Angel Meadow park have topped out. These are the 22-storey Gate and 17-storey Stile apartment blocks, part of the £200m Meadowside develoment. Together the buildings provide 286 one, two and three bedroom apartments and penthouses. The developer is the Chinese firm, Far East Consortium (FEC). There will be the usual add-ons for residents including a gym, concierges and a residents’ lounge with a terrace overlooking the park. Interesting view. The park’s a large necropolis. Under its lush grass sleep the earthly remains of around 40,000 people in a former graveyard. Maybe the apartments should be marketed to Goths. The scheme should complete in April 2021. Prospective owners can participate in the Help to Buy scheme providing up to 20% off the cost of a newly-built home (5% deposit and 75% mortgage). If a buyer is part of the NHS or a careworker, FEC will gift the 5% deposit.
Confidence still in place at MMU
There is to be a huge redevelopment on part of Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) land on Chester Street, off Oxford Road. This will be for MMU’s Faculty of Science and Engineering. While Confidential regrets a little the demolition of the entertaining low-level laboratory building with its almost weaving shed zig-zag roofline, there is much to be content with over the plans. Construction will start in January of a seven-storey, £45m building which will include a ‘super-lab’.
There will be new spaces devoted to laboratory research which should improve the provision of STEM education. STEM in academic jargon is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and maths. The architects are BDP and the scheme part of a mighty £389m investment by MMU in its facilities and campus. This is proof again of the confidence in academic circles, certainly with regard to physical restructuring, despite a terrible 2020 and an uncertain 2021.