Chancellor George Osborne unveils UK's first Airport City in Manchester - MIDAS

Chancellor George Osborne unveils UK's first Airport City in Manchester

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, today unveiled plans for the development of a £659million Airport City the first of its kind in the UK at Manchester Airport in the North West of England.

Designated as one of the UK Governments new Enterprise Zones last March, the Airport City project has received a substantial amount of interest and the detailed masterplan created by Manchester Airports Group (MAG), sets out the vision to transform Manchester Airport from a transport hub into an international business destination in its own right.

Building on the global connectivity offered by the airport location, the 150-acre regeneration scheme will deliver over five-million square feet of new high-quality business premises, with the aim of attracting international companies that would not previously have located in the region, or even the UK.

Becoming fully operational from April 2012, it is estimated that the wider 116-hectare Manchester Enterprise Zone will create up to 20,000 new jobs over the next 15-years. The Airport City project will be a focal point of the Manchester Enterprise Zone proposition, alongside a MediPark development at University Hospital South Manchester and Wythenshawe town centre sites all linked by a new Metrolink tramline currently under construction and complemented by a series of smaller opportunity sites in across South Manchester.

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 Manchesters 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.

The detailed stage two Masterplan for Airport City, unveiled today, identifies the creation of two core Airport City zones. The first is a development area adjacent to the airports existing railway station and to north of the M56, which will focus on hotel, office, retail and advanced manufacturing uses whilst a second area adjacent to the existing cargo centre at Junction 6 of the M56, will focus on freight and logistics uses. In total, over the next 12-15 years, Airport City will deliver:

  • 1.5 million sqft of offices
  • 650,000 sq ft advanced manufacturing
  • Up to 100,000sqft of retail and leisure
  • Approximately 2,500 hotel beds
  • 1.4 million sq ft logistics & warehousing

This stage of the Masterplanning has focused on reviewing the concept for Airport City and how Manchester can interpret elements of existing Airport Cities across the world in its own unique fashion, including what it looks like, how the infrastructure works and how the development integrates with both the existing airport campus itself, and surrounding neighbourhoods such as Wythenshawe.

Sustainability and connectivity are identified in the Masterplan as the key elements in the design the main central business district of Airport City to the north of the M56 will be linked to the airport terminals and The Station by a series of wide, landscaped green bridges based on New Yorks elevated urban park, the Highline. This will ensure that every part of the northern Airport City zone is within an eight-minute walk from the airports coach, bus and rail hub. A new Metrolink line to the airport and Wythenshawe is now under-construction and will also serve Airport City when it opens 2016.

A landscaped Central Park area of over 800m long, featuring a number of pavilions and a large-scale event space, will form the centrepiece of Airport City, along with traditional components of a conventional city centre such as retail outlets, coffee houses, bars and restaurants. The Central Park will also integrate with the existing green space at Painswick Park in order to provide greater connectivity from Wythenshawes Woodhouse Park housing estate so that Painswick Park benefits from a series of regenerative enhancements as a result.

Airport City’s commercial property offering will accommodate a mix of uses and will provide bespoke, high quality environments designed to appeal to graduates, entrepreneurs, global businesses and creating a highly skilled local workforce operating in sectors including: Advanced Manufacturing; Research & Development; Pharmaceuticals & Health; Professional Services; Science & Research; IT & Telecommunications; Retail & Leisure; Hotel & Conferencing, as well as aviation and cargo-related businesses. The architectural approach will be to create high quality, distinctive, contemporary new buildings, all designed and constructed to the highest possible BREEAM and LEED environmental standards.

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 projects life as we bring it to the market and commence phase one. We were enthused by the Governments recognition of Airport Citys 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.

Manchester Airports Group is currently preparing to undertake the first stage delivery of the project, which will involve the creation of key road elements, landscaping, infrastructure and utility provision, all of which will help enable the first phase of development plots. Planning permission for the main site link road is due to be submitted within the next few weeks and upon approval could see work start in spring, with completion within 12-15months. The new spine road opens up the site for development and whilst demand will drive the initial phases, the design is such that several plots and areas can be developed at the same time, giving maximum flexibility of location to occupiers.

Since the enterprise zone designation in March 2011, there has been a huge amount of interest in this 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.

The first phase delivery area is anticipated to create up to 1.85 million square feet of new business space. An Expression of Interest Document detailing the Airport City opportunity will be officially released through an open competitive process in February 2012, as Manchester Airports Group seeks to engage potential development partners to assist in the delivery of the project.

The University Hospital of South Manchester (UHSM), a world-class research hospital and centre of clinical excellence, is also at the centre of a number of initiatives that can take advantage of sites for the creation of a medical and related services complex within the Enterprise Zone, building on its academic support by the University of Manchester. The successful development of the Airport City and MediPark concepts will greatly expand the current local role of Wythenshawe town centre as it supports and takes advantage of the economic energy generated by these two core initiatives, buoyed by the additional connectivity created by the new Metrolink line.


For more information please or to request and interview, contact the Manchester Airports Group press office on +44 (0) 161 489 2700 or email:

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