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Does A Real Estate Battle Of The Irwell Loom?

100 Embankment alongside the river Irwell that marks the Salford/Manchester boundary

Manchester's list of frenemies is surprisingly short. London is top, obviously, although the centuries-long Mancunian tactic is to ignore the capital unless absolutely forced to acknowledge it. Then comes Liverpool, a city Mancunians hated so much they extended the sea 30 miles inland in order to avoid having to go there. Maybe soon we'll be adding Salford to the list?

The twin cities either side of the river Irwell have an uneasy relationship based on economic realism and shared politics. However, recent disputes over high-profile relocations like the BBC and Channel 4 have combined with a growing sense that Salford and Manchester are approaching the property market in divergent ways, to sharpen a long-simmering rivalry. Now two office schemes, one from the Salford side of the river, one from the Manchester side, are going head to head in the market for pre-lets.

Proposals for the 236K SF 4 Angel Square office scheme, part of MEPC/Hermes' Noma development in Manchester, go before Manchester city council planners this week.

The plan for the 1-acre site bounded by Miller Street, Rochdale Road/A664
Ring Road, Munster Street and Beswick Row/Dantzic Street, have been recommended for approval by planners. They cited the need for large floorplates of the kind this site can offer.

4 Angel Square, part of the NOMA development

Salford's 100 Embankment development is fishing in the same pond, also looking for large floorplate occupiers. Work on-site on the 166K SF block began in autumn 2018. The nine-storey office building is being delivered by Ask Real Estate and the Richardson family in a joint venture with a Tristan Capital Partners’ Fund and Salford City Council.

The involvement of Salford City Council, which (in contrast with recent policy at  Manchester City Council) has taken an active role in funding office development including, to the tune of £38M, the new Embankment speculative scheme, adds to the sense that the two sides of the Irwell are now operating in slightly different ways.

The appeal of the Salford scheme is that, despite being over the city boundary, it can claim to be fractionally closer to Manchester city centre's amenities than the NOMA scheme in the city of Manchester.

“The second phase of the scheme is now well underway," Ask Real Estate Managing Director John Hughes said. "The success of 101 Embankment in securing the Swinton letting is testament to the scheme's superb location and accessiblity. Being right at the heart of the city centre and only a short walk from the main transport hubs, shops and restaurants, Embankment continues to attract significant interest from occupiers and we look forward to now delivering the second phase.”

With Salford now pressing on with other large development sites like the 244-acre Salford Crescent scheme, which will target the same tech and media occupier demographic as central Manchester's Northern Quarter, the competition between the cities is likely to become more intense.