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What's The Logick Of Flintoff's 215K SF Manchester Spec Office Plans?

Freddie Flintoff (at right)

After a bruising first-innings fight to win planning permission for Logick Development’s Castlefield apartment scheme, cricketer-turned-developer Andrew Flintoff might have been expected to retreat to the pavilion.

The Castlefield development faced sustained opposition from local residents and some councillors. As a result, the scheme shrank from 35-storeys to 23, although reconfiguration only cut the number of apartments from 386 to 355. Consent was secured in June 2019.

Now Logick is pressing ahead with plans for a 215K SF office block and a 170K SF hotel on a site at Baring Street, next to U+I’s £1.4B Mayfield development.

The speculative scheme will start on-site in Q2 2021, the Manchester Evening News reported.

This is a bold move at a time when the office market has an uncertain future. But it makes sense in the context of U+I’s Mayfield scheme, where two blocks of 97K SF and 316K SF were revealed before the coronavirus pandemic. U+I pivoted from a residential-first approach to development to the more appealing (in February 2020) office-first approach. Construction work on the first 97K SF block could begin by the end of this year, it was said at the time.

Since then the pandemic has done U+I, and everyone else, some damage. Last week U+I revealed that management had taken a pay cut, that one in nine staff had been made redundant, and that it had slashed development spending this year by £33M.

The logic for Logick is that if it moves fast, it could take advantage of the place-making momentum that is already changing views and values in the half mile around Piccadilly railway station. Work on the 8M SF Portugal Street East regeneration area promises to lead the way.