2017 was yet another busy year of growth for the Warrington economy and it has been great to see such physical progress in the town.
By March 2018 almost 7000 people will be working on Omega the site, move on a further 12 months and that figure could be nearing 10,000. The residential element of the Omega development is also underway with Miller Homes on site and planning permission has been approved for Redrow Homes for the next element. Work will also be starting next year on the new 35 acre public park.
There has been some good progress too in the town centre with the Time Square project rapidly taking shape. The temporary market opened in August and the new multi-storey car park opened in November. Work is now underway in earnest on the main build phase and we’ll be announcing the first of the restaurants who will be taking up space early in the New Year along with a major leisure operator.
A successful town centre must have a balance between workers, residents and leisure offers and the Warrington Means Business growth framework sets out how this balance will be achieved, including the all-important transport developments. For years we have seen an exodus of residents from the town centre into the suburbs of the town, however in the last 12 months we have seen this trend reverse and there have been over 500 residential conversions delivered, most of which are fully occupied with tenants. The property market is starting to react to the public sector investment in the last three years and the growth potential of the town is becoming increasingly recognised by private sector investors. Barely a day goes by when I don’t receive a call from an investor.
It is great to see the independent businesses over in the Cultural Quarter doing so well, with independent shops, food outlets and bars popping up. We will soon see more bars/restaurants open adding to the night-time economy in the showpiece Old Treasury building and the opening in February of a new bar on Bold Street by the owners of 9 Gallon and Hop & Co. Warrington Borough Council’s planned improvements on Springfield Street in the Cultural Quarter will commence early next year and will no doubt provide the opportunity for more investment and for both Queens Gardens and Springfield Street to become more vibrant with a mix of leisure offers for all ages. I’m also looking forward to the opening of the planned Italian restaurant in the Old School Building on Cairo Street.
I recently visited the £5 million conversion of former offices at Kings Court into 32 luxury apartments undertaken by local developer Emerald Bay. The apartments have been completed to a very high standard and appeal to young professionals wanting an urban lifestyle. I expect the first phase of this development to be fully occupied with tenants by the middle of 2018. Subject to planning permission Emerald Bay are planning to develop more residential units in the Town Hill area of the town centre – a real indication of the growing strength of the town centre economy.