THE wealth of property billionaire John Whittaker continues to soar as he and his family are named as the fourth richest people in the North West.

The Sunday Times 2018 Rich List has placed the tycoon in the top five wealthiest people in the region with the family's wealth increasing by £50 million on last year making the Whittakers worth £2.25 bn.

Mr Whittaker, aged 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, and is worth £2.25bn, up £50m on the last year.

He is chairman of the Peel Group which — in the face of opposition are looking to develop Hulton Park — in neighbouring Bolton.

Bread-makers the Warburton family, from Bolton, also feature in the the 20 richest people in the region, being placed 18, with a worth of £545 million, their was no change in their wealth on last year.

The brothers Mohsin (46) and Zuber (45) Issa launched their Euro Garages business in Bury in 2001 by buying a forecourt for £150,000.

Now positioned at number eight on the regional rich list, theirs is the largest owner-managed petrol forecourt firm in the UK. With a value of £1.1 billion, they have seen a rise of £100m since last year.

Just one place behind them is Bury's Henry Moser (68) who set up his business in 1974, after working on market stalls.

During the 1970s he and a business partner sold cars. They then bought an off-the-shelf firm and arranged their first loan. That mushroomed into the Manchhester-based mortgage lender, Together, which is now worth £1.01 billion, up by £410 million from last year.

Also featured on the North West list is musician Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell with their wealth worth £820 million.

The combined wealth of the richest 20 in the Northwest stands at £32.175bn this year with a record 11 billionaires among them. Only one of the top 20 has seen their wealth fall in the past year, while between them they are worth £2.724bn more than they were in 2017.

Robert Watts, the Compiler of The Sunday Times Rich List, said: “Our Northwest 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 and Matt Moulding the Northwest 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."