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Robert Donnelly, Associate of Edward Symmons LLP, discusses the impact of the 1st Phase of MediaCity on the region.

wantspacegotspace.co.uk - Robert Donnelly, Associate of Edward Symmons LLP, discusses the impact of the 1st Phase of MediaCity on the region.Peel Group’s £650 million investment in creating a specialist hub for the media and creative industries in a neighbourhood that had not previously viewed favourably by the business community was a real step change. Salford - and specifically Salford Quays - previously had a less than savoury reputation. Vandalism and security issues were generally understood to be the common thread for business occupiers based there, rents were therefore depressed and take-up was weak.

The commitment shown by Peel, and in turn the BBC, ITV and the University of Salford as its major occupiers, has marked an exciting new chapter. It has not only brought the place up but has realigned public perception of this previously overlooked westerly suburb of Manchester. There are still isolated issues there today but the bigger picture, and importantly the area’s reputation, has shifted.

March will mark the first anniversary of MediaCity’s official opening by Her Majesty the Queen. There is no doubt that its arrival brought a boost to the local economy, with 2,300 staff from the BBC alone based there already and more expected. Indeed, Land Registry data suggests that residential property prices in Salford rose faster than anywhere else in Britain outside London – with homes up 6.8 per cent year on year. Such a hike, a full 5 per cent above the UK average, is inevitably linked to the relocation of those vast numbers of existing BBC employees. Indeed, some media reports claim that of more than 3,000 Salford residents who applied for positions at the shiny new development, just 24 were appointed. Less-publicised information like this is perhaps the counter-balance to all the positive news, with less tangible employment benefits for local people than some had hoped for.

In commercial property terms too we have seen a “dominoes effect”. Demand has started to pick for both office premises and industrial units in the Salford Quays area and many smaller occupiers who are unable to take occupation within MediaCity itself are seeking to buy small industrial units in the wider Salford area, in a bid to associate themselves with the Salford success story.

Bigger players are sitting up and taking notice too. Last month, Hunter Property Fund management reportedly put wheels in motion to buy the 433,600 sq ft Exchange Quay; an assertive move by a Scottish fund manager who I suggest might not have considered such a substantial purchase in this part of the world before the media moved in. It is certainly a positive signal for the area, albeit that the price being discussed is a fraction of the value of the property in the boom years. But, as we well know, this is not specific to Salford and with the national property market so tentative, this deal would represent more good news for Salford, exemplary of a changing mood in the area.

Posted by The Editor (wantspacegotspace) on 1st March 2013 (updated 05/03/2013)

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