SEVERAL firms are competing for a £100 million development to spruce up Warrington in north-west England.
A shortlist of Balfour Beatty, Bovis Lend Lease, HBG, Laing O'Rourke and Sir Robert McAlpine will submit bids for the mixed-use scheme, known as the Wireworks. The five have until March 14 to return tenders.
The Cheshire town has an association with wire-making dating back to the 19th century and its rugby league side is nicknamed 'the Wire'.
The client behind the deal is Winwick Partnership, a joint venture between Manchester developer Modus Properties and Liverpool developer Iliad Group.
Balfour Beatty missed out on the original shortlist but was called up after Shepherd withdrew to concentrate on other work being let by Modus. Carillion also has a strong relationship with Modus but is thought to have refrained from bidding for the same reason.
A source at one shortlisted bidder said: 'I don't think there is anyone around who didn't want it on the grounds that there might have been something wrong with it. It's a great client, a lovely scheme and high in value. It's just that there is a lot of work available. The Rock scheme in Bury is a similar size and will be coming up soon and there is plenty more.' Plans for the Wireworks include new leisure facilities anchored by a multiplex cinema and a hotel as well as several restaurants on a site on Winwick Street, on the northern periphery of the town centre. There will also be around 600 luxury apartments, offices, retail units and underground and multi-storey car parking for up to 1,000 cars.
The planning application was submitted to Warrington Borough Council last year and was approved by the planning committee last week subject to certain conditions. These include agreeing the section 106 order under which the developer will likely be required to build some social housing.
The scheme must be referred to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister because the plan includes retail work and falls outside the boundary of the town centre. Construction is expected to start towards the end of the year.