Thursday, 5 March 2015

Northern Powerhouse: integrated transport body?

A £15 billion Northern Transport Plan could be at the vanguard of a coherent economic plan that will fire up the Government's Northern Powerhouse initiative, according to The Insitute for Public Policy Research. 

The leading think tank supports the idea that a new body should take responsibility for all major transport modes; rail, road, sea and air transport, directing priorities for infrastructure investment, franchising and ticketing. 

Read the BBC News article here: http://bit.ly/1EoBj4O

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

National planning policy: change unlikely

The March 2012 National Planning Policy Framework looks set to remain largely unchanged following a Select Committee Review which proffered a number of modifications. 

The Communities and Local Government Select Committee embarked on an inquiry in April 2014 into the operation of the NPPF, reporting on its findings in December. 

The Government's response, published last week, rejects most of the suggested changes, conceding only that guidance on the need for simplicity in Local Plans and ease of accessibility to that information might benefit from greater clarity. It is likely that will be addressed through a revision of Planning Practice Guidance, rather than amendment of the NPPF itself. 

The Government's full response to the Select Committe's recommendations can be viewed at: http://bit.ly/1Gzdt5L

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Bury Retail Review

 

The retail market is stirring in Bury.  The town’s famous market might still the main draw for coach trippers but Scottish Widow’s recently announced sale of the Mill Gate Centre hails the prospect of fresh retail investment and lettings at a key town centre asset, which relinquished occupiers to Thornfield’s The Rock, just as the recession bit hard. 

Here’s a quick roundup of what’s happening in Manchester’s northern outpost.


The Rock
Bury is still adjusting to The Rock, which opened in summer 2010, adding 74,000 sq.m of retail space, Vue cinema, AMF bowling and the town’s first clutch of chain restaurants.  The scheme delivered large floorplate units, attracting debutants Primark, Debenhams and Superdry.  Others transferred from traditional prime areas in the Mill Gate Centre, notably M&S, but several vacancies remain following early tenant churn.  More development is promised, adding four restaurant / cafĂ© units at the west end of the scheme on the Sol Viva nightclub site.  Permission was secured in 2013 and the site is ready to go.

The Mill Gate Centre
Contracts were exchanged in June for sale of The Mill Gate Centre by Scottish Widows for about £52 million.  InfraRed Capital Partners is acquiring and will hope to reduce voids caused by tenant failures and defections to The Rock.  It retains BHS as anchor, along with Boots, New Look, Specsavers and Waterstones.  There is potential for reconfiguration of the mainly covered centre.  Scottish Widows drew up a development plan after its purchase in 2005 but the recession that followed and shift of focus to The Rock meant nothing progressed.

Bolton Street
Bury Council granted planning permission in September 2013 for a 12,000 sq.m foodstore on the vacant police HQ site and leisure centre, at Bolton Street, on the western edge of town.  The Council’s partner ASK Developments, must ensure relocation of the leisure centre to nearby Knowsley Street.  Morrisons and Sainsburys were rumoured as a potential occupiers - neither is represented in the town - but local agents doubt the retailer appetite for a large store.  The permission is the subject of judicial review by rival developer Morbaine, which has aspirations for a foodstore across town at Derby Way.  Morbaine’s challenge was initially rebuffed by the courts but a subsequent hearing in March 2014 determined there were legitimate grounds for challenge.  Negotiations are ongoing between the parties; Council Officers say it might lead to cessation of the proceedings.

Derby Way
Morbaine has options on 2.4 hectares of land east of The Rock, occupied by First Bus.  Planning permission for a 10,500 sq.m foodstore was refused in September 2013, at the same committee that approved the Council’s alternative Bolton Street scheme.  Sainsbury’s was associated with the site but, like Bolton Street, sentiments seem to have changed and the retailer is unlikely to commit.
Woodfields Retail Park
A Tesco British Land JV, anchored by the eponymous retailer on the northern edge of the town centre, off Peel Way. Tesco’s superstore is dominant in the town and likely to be extended to add dot.com facilities, servicing a growing demand for multi-channel retailing.  A planning application is with the Council.  The retail park is fully let, home to Boots, Next, Sports Soccer, Currys and JD Sports.

Moorgate Retail Park
Located on the east edge of the centre, Moorgate is recovering from the failure of MFI in late 2008 and Comet in December 2012. Home Bargains mopped up the former MFI unit about 12 months ago – its third outlet in the town.  The Comet space remains available 18 months after the shutters came down, but is the only vacant retail warehouse in town.

Other Town Centre Retail Parks
Angouleme Retail Park (George Street) and Halls Retail Park (Foundry Street) complete the line‑up of town centre retail parks, fully let and neighboured by Asda and Matalan stores on the southern edge of the retail core. Key occupiers include Argos, TK Maxx, Smyths Toys and Pets at Home.

Elton
Further afield, 0.8 mile west of the town centre, Lidl is seeking consent for a store at Victoria Street.  The Council refused permission in September 2013, concerned about the site’s out-of-centre location and loss of employment land.  Lidl has appealed and awaits a decision.  In the meantime Aldi has stolen a march on its discount rival, securing space at the neighbouring Crostons Retail Park, ending a patchy period for a former Netto store, which has seen several occupiers come and go since its closure in 2010, ironically just as Netto makes a return to the UK market.

Park 66, Pilsworth
Park 66, at junction 3 of the M66, 1.5 miles south east of Bury town centre, is a mothballed leisure investment next to Asda’s established superstore.  Mutil‑screen cinema, bowling and restaurant buildings were vacated following movement of tenants to The Rock.  A standalone Pizza Hut continues to trade.  Marketing in 2010 generated interest for retailing, subject to planning, but nothing made it off the drawing board.  The site is being marketed now - offers are due in any day and likely to see industrial or warehousing emerge as the preferred use.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Topps Tiles - Bury space ready to go

NEWS Cutting - Insider News 03 July 2014
Flooring retailer Topps Tiles has agreed to take space in Bury. The business will move into a trade counter premises on Webb Street which was previously occupied by Pendle Designs.
The property has been remodelled and refurbished to suit the company's requirements.
Paul Nolan, director of Nolan Redshaw, the sole agent on the property, said: "We are delighted to secure this letting on behalf of our client who has worked closely with Topps Tiles to refurbish this building to suit their needs and we are delighted with the finished product.
"It also follows on from the successful letting we did to Screwfix at the adjacent building twelve months ago and shows that well-presented properties in the right location will attract high calibre occupiers."
Nolan Redshaw and MAZE Planning Solutions acted on behalf of a private client and Topps Tiles was unrepresented. 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Woodland holiday homes approved on appeal


MAZE Planning Solutions and Urban Green have secured detailed planning permission for 49 holiday homes at Leisure Lakes on behalf of the owner, Leisure Lakes Ltd following a successful appeal. 
 

The proposed holiday homes are situated in woodland with a lakeside setting and form part of significant planned improvements to facilities at the outdoor pursuits, watersports and caravan park near Tarleton in West Lancashire, which are being guided by MAZE on behalf of the owner.

The site lies within the Green Belt and much of it is within a Biological Heritage Site covered by a Woodland Tree Preservation Order, raising a challenging set of land use planning issues. 

West Lancashire Borough Council refused to approve the detailed design for the holiday homes in May 2013, but the scheme has now been approved following reconsideration by a Government Planning Inspector.

The appeal was heard in April and May this year and the Planning Inspector’s decision draws a 6.5 year reserved matters planning application process to a close after negotiations between Leisure Lakes, West Lancashire Borough Council and Lancashire County Council faltered. 

The appeal success owes much to work carried out by Manchester based consultants Urban Green, who were commissioned in the latter stages of the project to prepare a woodland management programme, construction management plan and arboricultural assessment, as well as landscape design proposals for the holiday homes.  Urban Green’s work enabled Leisure Lakes and the Borough Council to reengage in discussions about the scheme after the May 2013 refusal.  That ultimately led to the parties resolving their differences during the appeal process and presenting the Planning Inspector with an agreed scheme.    

Andrew Watt, Partner at MAZE Planning Solutions said:

“The planning application process was made difficult by a lack of resource in the County Council’s ecology service which meant that face-to-face meetings needed to discuss and resolve issues raised by the development did not take place, despite repeated pleas from Leisure Lakes.

Whilst regrettable as a course of action, the appeal process focussed all parties firmly on the task of getting the scheme right, which enabled agreement to be reached on development detail and the long term management of woodland areas at Leisure Lakes for ecology.

The Planning Inspector is to be applauded for his approach. He recognised the merits of the scheme and the opportunity it presented to bring large areas of woodland in the Biological Heritage Site under management.  Adjournment of the appeal hearing for a month was permitted to allow time for Leisure Lakes to reach agreement with the Borough and County Councils. That pragmatism was embraced by all parties and the cooperative approach that resulted was key to the approval of reserved matters, which is an outcome I believe all parties are happy with” 

Martin King, Director at Urban Green said:

“The project and permissions had an unusually long history and thus it provided a real challenge to us, as our involvement commenced late in the overall process. We always believed there was a workable solution to the development being able to be implemented in such a woodland and lakeside location. We are extremely pleased that the approach of appropriate management, along with sensitive design and construction methods within this setting was acknowledged by all parties and that we were able to be part of this successful appeal. Hopefully the project will now move forward positively."

A copy of the appeal and related costs decision can be viewed here.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Security improvements at leisure park

MAZE Planning Solutions has secured approval for a security lodge at Leisure Lakes, overcoming an earlier refusal and failed appeal. 

Upgraded security forms a small part of significant planned improvements to facilities at the outdoor pursuits, watersports and caravan park near Tarleton in West Lancashire, which are being guided by MAZE on behalf of the site owner. 

West Lancashire Borough Council gave its approval to formation of a new 18 hole golf course at the end of 2013 and the Council has recently reached agreement with the owner on the proposed construction of 49 woodland holiday lodges, although the final decision on that development rests with The Planning Inspectorate, with an outcome likely in June 2014.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Topps Tiles ready for Bury


Work is underway on Topps Tiles new outlet in Bury, Greater Manchester.  The company will occupy 650 square metres of space overlooking Crostons Road, next to B&Q, Safestore and Screwfix.

The former Pendle Designs industrial building is being comprehensively remodelled and refurbished to provide modern space for the business, which provides a range of tiles, hard floor finishes and related products geared towards meeting the needs of the trade sector and competent DIY'ers.

The development is being undertaken by a private investor, with planning advice provided by MAZE Planning Solutions and acquisition and letting work undertaken by Nolan Redshaw Chartered Surveyors.