Kevin McCabe isn’t the most fervent supporter of our national political leaders, but believes they got it right with the concept of the Northern Powerhouse.
The future economic prosperity of the region rests to a large extent on what he describes as the “golden triangle” of Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.
At a time of political and economic uncertainty, it is the Northern Powerhouse that can provide much of the vision and stability that business leaders are crying out for, says the property entrepreneur.
Yes, Scarborough and the Northern Powerhouse are a very good fit, and Kevin is keen to maximise the potential for the benefit of all concerned, helping to counter the gravitational pull of London.
“What we are doing coincides with the brand of the Northern Powerhouse, and we are going to stick to the territory that we know well,” he says.
In the case of Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield, it means building on the strong partnerships with UK and overseas financial partners, local authorities and a range of other agencies that have borne fruit in the shape of numerous multi-million pound commercial and residential developments over the years.
It means tapping into the expertise and ambition of the universities, for example.
“Sheffield, like Manchester and Leeds, has wonderful universities with many international students who live as well as study here.
“We need to build on this.
“The Northern Powerhouse will work, especially with projects such as HS2 and HS3. Let’s do it!”
READ MORE: Powerhouse portfolio
But there is much to do, not least in improving road and rail links quickly between the cities.
Manchester Airport is the second busiest in the UK, points out Kevin, and nearby towns and cities should take the opportunity to feed off it better. “Don’t compete with it, link with it!”
Then there are the political obstacles.
“No business person can rely on politicians anymore,” says Kevin. “A referendum on Brexit should not have been necessary. Government ministers should have set out to establish as to how the UK’s position within the EU needed to be sensibly revised and thereafter used, their diplomatic skills to get the right result for the nation.
…devolution can be a powerful catalyst to progress and prosperity.
“The last General Election in 2017 made everything more rocky and business people are thinking ‘Where do we go from here?’”
In the meantime, Scarborough will press ahead with its expansive Northern Powerhouse portfolio.
Thorpe Park Leeds, a major estate led by Scarborough for more than 20 years, have Legal & General Capital, as a partner along with the Department of International Trade and Leeds City Council. Phase One consists of 800,000 sq ft of Business Park Offices with more than 60 occupiers including IBM, National Grid and United Utilities.
The £500m phase two will provide 1.35m sq ft of mixed accommodation including 940,000 sq ft of offices, 400,000 sq ft of retail, leisure, 300 homes and a 113-acre public park with sports facilities.
The development is seen as a leading example of Northern Powerhouse investment, demonstrating that devolution can be a powerful catalyst to progress and prosperity.
Similarly, Scarborough is at the heart of the £1bn Middlewood Locks, Manchester development, which will provide 2,200 canal side homes, nearly 1m sq ft of commercial space, a hotel, shops, restaurants and a public square near Salford Central railway station in Greater Manchester.
This Scarborough development is a joint venture involving also China-based Hualing Group and Singapore-listed Metro Holdings developing the 24.5 acres into ‘one of the best communities in the North’.
Across the UK, Kevin and his team monitor some 30 smaller development projects.
And that’s not forgetting an international portfolio. Founded by Kevin McCabe in 1980, Scarborough has grown to embrace real estate, retail, energy, leisure and consumer sector business interests in Central Europe, North America, Australia, India and China, including Hong Kong.
Yet as he approaches the final stage of his business career, one of Kevin’s main goals is to champion the Northern Powerhouse in the part of the UK he knows best.
The foundations are being laid in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield – not that Sheffield sometimes does itself any favours, he suggests.
“It’s frustrating. Sheffield is the fourth largest city in the country and has so much to say, but at times it doesn’t shout from the rooftops as to its background, history and the quality of its universities, schools, hospitals and all the many excellent companies that fly the flag for the renowned Steel City!”
However, significant progress is being made. As with Manchester and Leeds, a good indicator is the skyline.
“We want to see who has got the most cranes. Cranes bring prosperity.”