THE property billionaire behind the controversial Hulton Park development and his family have been named the fourth richest in the North West, it has been revealed.

Bury born John Whittaker and his family are in the North West top five of The Sunday Times 2018 Rich List with their wealth increasing by £50m on last year making them worth £2.25bn.

Bread-makers, the Warburton family also feature in the the 20 richest in the region, being placed 18 and worth £545 million — there was no change in their wealth on last year.

Mr Whittaker, 76, owns nearly 27 per cent of property group Intu, which has 20 shopping centres in the UK and Spain — including Manchester’s Trafford Centre.

He is chairman of the Peel Group which want to develop Hulton Park despite opposition from campaigners.

Warburtons company chairman Jonathan Warburton and his cousins, Brett and Ross, assumed control of the business in 1991 following the retirement of their fathers.

The bakery was founded in 1876 by Thomas and Ellen Warburton and has been passed down through five generations of the family.
Number one on the region's wealth list is The Duke of Westminster and the Grosvenor family, who have seen their fortune rise by £444m to £9.964 billion.

Also featured on the North West list is musician Paul McCartney and his wife Nancy Shevell with a combined wealth of £820 million.
Altogether the wealth of the richest 20 in the North West stands at £32.175bn including a record 11 billionaires among them. 

Between them they are worth £2.724bn more than they were in 2017 while only one has seen their wealth fall compared to last 

Robert Watts, the Compiler of The Sunday Times Rich List, said: “Our North West Rich List is again led by the Duke of Westminster, but wealth creation in the UK is increasingly a story of self-made, rather than inherited, wealth.

“Fred and Peter Done, the Issa Brothers and Henry Moser all started out with little, worked ferociously hard and now sit on ten-figure fortunes. 

"That’s the big difference we’ve seen over the 30 editions of The Sunday Times Rich List — wealth creation is now a story of self-made men and women. 

“Technology is also playing a bigger and bigger part in making fortunes. In Mahmud Kamani [fashion retailer] and Matt Moulding [health and beauty retailer The Hut Group] the North West has produced two of the country’s most digital savvy retailers. 

"We expect their wealth to climb in the years ahead — although the 27-year-old duke may take some catching.”