Blog by Lucinda Holt
International agent predicts 2019 is Preston’s time
Cushman & Wakefield believes 2019 will see an opportunity to “reposition” town and city centres like Preston focussing on residential and offices rather than traditional retail.
Caroline Baker, head of Cushman & Wakefield’s Manchester office and partner in the development and planning team, says it is "not difficult to predict" 2019 is likely to be another difficult year for the retail sector in the North West.
However, she believes the key to success will be to see this as an opportunity to reposition our town centres.
"I predict 2019 will be a year when the institutions and investors – which have so far only been interested in regional centres like Manchester and Liverpool – start to look at the next tier of town centres," she said.
"The key is to focus on those towns that have great connectivity, access to jobs and access to local services combined with unique assets which make them standout. Where partners come together and set a new vision for these towns with a passion and commitment to work together, transformation will happen,” explains Caroline.
“We need to get more people living in our town centres but many lack quality homes or have limited choices. We need to deliver modern homes which attract a wider range of occupiers – young families, down sizers, etc,” says Caroline.
Preston is the kind of small city Caroline has in mind as it ticks all of these boxes and there is a talented group of professionals working on regeneration initiatives in the city.
Preston is also lacking any quality Grade A office accommodation in the city centre and this has to be an opportunity for the right developer or public/private partnership.
Rob Yates, partner and head of North West office agency at Cushman & Wakefield, says there is "only 166,500 sq ft of immediately available grade A accommodation in central Manchester". He added that several transactions will soon complete, resulting in an absence of 'ready to occupy' supply.
"Two new developments are under construction that will deliver 300,000 sq ft to the market by the autumn of 2019 but we expect the majority of new stock could be let before practical completion," he said.
This presents a further opportunity for Preston to capitalise on the lack of available office space and affordability issues in Manchester.