An artist's impression of the planned Airport City.
Posted: 13th January 2012
Chancellor George Osborne has unveiled plans to transform Manchester Airport from a transport hub into an international business destination in its own right.
The £659 million project, which will create the UK’s first ever airport city and up to 21,000 jobs in the region, was designated as one of the UK’s new enterprise zones last March, allowing it to benefit from tax breaks, new superfast broadband and lower levels of planning control, among other things.
The Airport City plan focuses on the creation of two core zones.
Zone 1: A development adjacent to the airport’s existing railway station and to north of the M56, which will focus on hotel, office, retail and advanced manufacturing uses.
Zone 2: An area adjacent to the existing cargo centre at Junction 6 of the M56 that will focus on freight and logistics uses.
In total, over the next 12-15 years, Airport City will deliver: 1.5 million sq ft of offices, 650,000 sq ft advanced manufacturing, up to 100,000 sq ft of retail and leisure, approximately 2,500 hotel beds, 1.4 million sq ft logistics and warehousing.
Commenting on the masterplan, Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Airport City will fill the gap in the market that currently exists for a high quality and well-connected environment for businesses that need access to a major British city and to a global marketplace.
“Airport City will provide an innovative and complementary offer to Greater Manchester’s existing assets, rather than competing against them, adding new capacity to the city's existing dynamic economy.
“Manchester is well placed with an international offer based on established academic research and technology, innovative businesses, communications and transport infrastructure.”
Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said: “Airport City is a concept we have been developing for a number of years and we are now at a critical stage in the project’s life as we bring it to the market and commence phase one.
“We were enthused by the government’s recognition of Airport City’s potential when it was named as the focal point of their new Enterprise Zone, as we feel that this project presents a generational opportunity not only for the wider region, but nationally in order to attract new investment to the UK during the economic downturn.”
Since the enterprise zone designation last year, there has been a great deal of interest in the project – of the hundreds received, around 60 are considered to be potential occupiers – and around a quarter of those are currently progressing and in discussion with MAG about locating at Airport City.
Manchester Airport is the UK’s biggest and busiest regional airport, serving around 19 million passengers every year, with around 60 airlines offering global connections to around 200 destinations – including daily scheduled services to New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Singapore.