Manchester Airport’s parent company M.A.G has submitted plans for the £650 million development of a major new commercial location – including offices, hotels, manufacturing centres, retail outlets and leisure facilities – to attract global businesses to the North West, creating 11,400 jobs.
The Airport City Manchester outline planning application is for the comprehensive, phased redevelopment of a 65 acre area of land to the north of Manchester Airport’s terminals and railway station. Currently a mix of scrubland and temporary airport car parking, the site is bordered by the M56 spur road and Woodhouse Park area of Wythenshawe. The proposals comprise:
• 1.2 million square feet of offices
• 530,000 square feet of advanced manufacturing space
• Around 1,300 new hotel beds
• 62,000 square feet of ancillary retail
• Extensive new public realm and open-space, including a new 13 acre central park area
• New multi storey car parking spaces and cycle spaces
• A wide landscaped ‘green bridge’ over the M56 spur road to provide pedestrian access and a new iconic gateway
Airport City Manchester is the core element of the Government designated Enterprise Zone surrounding the UK’s third busiest airport. It aims to compete with existing airport city and ‘aerotropolis’ projects outside the UK, such as at Munich, Barcelona and Amsterdam; and are attractive to multi-national companies that require business space in a location that gives them highly accessible to a both major city and the global marketplace.
The project aims to attract inward investment and provide new employment opportunities for residents of Wythenshawe. Employment, education and training programmes are underway to maximise the use of local labour and supply chains. Jobs during the construction phases will be in addition to 11,400 new jobs, ranging from higher-level/skilled occupations to intermediate/entry level roles. Initiatives such as the successful Airport Academy and M.A.G’s sponsorship of nearby Manchester Enterprise Academy – where it feeds into the curriculum to equip people with the required skills to access jobs at the Airport – will also be extended to Airport City.
M.A.G’s Airport City Director, John Atkins, said: “Airport City will attract investment from international businesses and become a catalyst for the wider long term regeneration of Wythenshawe, with the creation of thousands of new jobs. It brings a world-class commercial product that is sustainable and innovative to the UK for the first time – this presents Manchester with a unique opportunity add to its offer as a major European business city and will enhance the airport’s reputation as an economic hub and a global gateway to the UK.
“The aim is to create a modern business destination that makes full use of infrastructure already in place and the majority of workers and visitors will not drive to Airport City – instead they will walk, cycle, take a tram, bus, train or a plane. We have been working on this project for six years, examining airport cities across the world and how Manchester can successfully apply the concept. The planning submission demonstrates the progress we have made in the past 12 months and is a major step forward towards starting work on site.”
The centrepiece of the proposed development is a new 13 acre central park, surrounded by a ‘downtown’ district of distinctive contemporary new buildings and high quality public areas. New retail and amenities will occupy the ground floor level of key buildings to create a ‘high street’, including: shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, crèches, health and medical centres, dry cleaners, gym and leisure facilities. The supporting amenities will enable the development to be self-sustaining, generating footfall and will benefit residents in the surrounding areas.
New community facilities are also planned to help promote the use of the area during evenings and weekends – this could include outdoor space for music, performances or small markets. A range of hotels will be spread across the site to further promote 24 hour activity and will include new conference, event and catering space. Airport City will also have prioritised super-fast broadband connectivity, a benefit of the Government Enterprise Zone designation. Information centres, a bicycle hub and public art work will also feature.
A natural habitat corridor, linking the central park area and other off-site green spaces including Painswick Park, will also be formed by rerouting small streams that run through the site and existing trees where possible will be retained and bolstered with new native planting to encourage wildlife. A landscaped buffer zone will be created along the southern edge of the residential area of Woodhouse Park. The proposal does not require the acquisition or demolition of any properties.
The site will be one of the most accessible in the region. Motorway access is via J5 of the M56 and a new landscaped ‘green bridge’ will bring the Airport’s terminals and public transport interchange within walking distance. The Airport’s station offers train, coach and bus services across the North and a 14.5km Metrolink extension is under construction and will link Airport City to Greater Manchester’s successful tram network by 2016. Manchester Airport itself also provides international air connections to over 200 destinations worldwide. These transport locations make the site uniquely placed to attract global businesses and companies who need to move people and goods across the world.
The outline planning application for the ‘North’ Airport City area was submitted to Manchester City Council and follows extensive pre-application public consultations in the local area by M.A.G. Members of the public can view the application on the Council website.
Last month M.A.G received outline planning approval for the £100 million World Logistics Hub development, next to junction six of the M56 and the existing airport freight area. The ‘South’ Airport City area of the Enterprise Zone, it will provide 1.4 million square feet of logistics space and 36.6 acres of new landscaping and natural habits – with the creation of 1,800 jobs.