6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Why Manchester’s Airport City is a key player in the Northern Powerhouse

PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 August 2015 | UPDATED: 17:12 24 October 2015

Manchester Airport City

Manchester Airport City

not Archant

This stunning new Northern Powerhouse development is not just about aeroplanes, writes Martin Pilkington

Manchester Airport City Manchester Airport City

At Manchester Airport a project that will change the region’s economic landscape is underway. Strangely, Airport City is as much about trains and trams – and shops and offices – as it is about planes.

The concept is simple: to develop a mini-city on land around the airport, making it an attractive centre for international companies to establish their UK or European HQs, while providing the other amenities – retail, hospitality and leisure – that a modern workforce demands.

Since ground was broken on the site in 2013 there has been little let up in news about developments, and there’s no sign of things slowing. ‘This is a big year for Airport City, particularly on the north site, with strong foundations laid in 2014,’ says CEO for Property at Manchester Airports Group Lynda Shillaw. ‘As well as our office scheme, the next few months will see further announcements for the project.’

It’s good to hear that Manchester’s offer can’t be matched elsewhere in the country. ‘No other UK airport outside London has the infrastructure, capacity or route network to make such a project work,’ says David Partridge, managing partner at Argent, the firm overseeing the development. ‘Given constraints in the south east of England, Manchester is probably the only place in the UK that can realistically support an airport city development.

Manchester Airport City Manchester Airport City

‘It’s clearly interesting for business people to be able to fly in from overseas and then be at their desk 10 minutes after clearing formalities. We also hope people living and working in and around the airport will benefit from the new facilities. For example, you might meet friends at Airport City for shopping, or go for a meal after work.’

The project could be a major boost for local architects, designers and other building professionals. ‘With lots of different types of buildings – hotels, offices, car parks, warehousing, shops, advanced manufacturing – you need different sorts of specialist architects,’ David explains, though he emphasises there will be a definite ‘look’ to the place.

‘We believe very much in building up the city as a whole with some common themes, perhaps materials for example, and there’ll be common design factors like the buildings lining up nicely so they hold the edge of the street, but certainly they will not be identical.’

The idea is to create a liveable community, making commutes by public transport easy with tram and train improvements in hand, and having retail and leisure facilities to serve workforce and visitors alike. ‘We want to do something that provides workers with amenities that make it attractive to stay around, just like in a traditional city centre – bars, shops, restaurants etc – before they jump on the tram or the train and head for home,’ he adds.

Airport City will be built across two sites. The first, Airport City North, is adjacent to the airport station, and spreads across to an area north of the M56. Here the focus is new hotel, office, retail and advanced manufacturing sites. The second site, Airport City South, will be to the west of the airport, providing a World Logistics Hub.

DHL became the first occupier late last year, and two other significant elements have been signed up in 2015, so the time when the developers can begin ‘place making’ – building the public and leisure spaces to complement the business activities on site - is coming ever nearer. ‘People go to the airport to jump on the plane, not for lunch,’ says Mr Partridge. ‘This changes that view. Airport City is not just for airport travellers.’

City in numbers

* £800 million development over 10-15 years

* 160 acre site

* 16,000 new jobs forecast

* 5,000,000 square feet of high quality new buildings

* Joint venture between Manchester Airports Group, Beijing Construction Engineering Group, Carillion PLC, the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, and developers Argent


March 2009 announcement of MAG’s Airport City plans

January 2012 launch of the Airport City Masterplan

May 2013 Chancellor George Osborne breaks ground on the project

November 2012-January 2013 outline planning permissions granted

October 2013 Joint Venture Agreement with financial backers announced

October 2014 the first occupier

February 2015 logistics scheme development – ALPHA - announced

March 2015 75,000 square foot office scheme announced

Related articles


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Wed, 00:00

Hearty breakfasts and delicious dinners are just two reasons for walking in this stunning area, as John Lenehan discovers

Read more
Bowland Walks
Wed, 00:00

There are few finer thing than exploring the countryside surrounding the many rivers situated across the county.

Read more
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Victoria Smith always loved horses but her high pressure job meant she had little time to ride – until she met a deer in the Forest of Bowland

Read more
Monday, May 14, 2018

Developments underway and planned around the city are celebrating its proud heritage and building for the future

Read more
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

For almost 25 years, outdoor writers and photographers Dennis and Jan Kelsall have produced guides and articles covering many of the country’s popular walking destinations. Here, Dennis picks five of his favourites.

Read more
Friday, May 4, 2018

Ramsbottom is well known for its food and drink scene, but Rebekka O’Grady meets some arty residents that will inspire your creative side.

Read more
Thursday, May 3, 2018

A devastating riding accident may have saved Katherine Beaumont from a life of anxiety and stress. Now she is sharing her experience.

Read more

A unique community musical in Wigan is taking one of George Orwell’s most famous works from the page to the stage and making a song and dance about social inequality.

Read more

When photographer Emma Campbell fell in love with Lakeland’s fell ponies she decided to raise their profile with a special project.

Read more
Equestrian photography
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Our walking guide John Lenehan takes us on a towpath where you can see one of Lancashire’s great engineering feats.

Read more
Canals Chorley
Monday, April 9, 2018

A selection of walks in and around Bowland for outdoor types who like to end their hike on a high note – with some great food and drink.

Read more
Monday, April 9, 2018

From specialist soap to awarding winning ale, Staveley is proving to be a magnet for small businesses and visitors

Read more
Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The joy of spotting owls is described by The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright who tells us where to find them and how to identify these elusive creatures.

Read more
Monday, April 2, 2018

It stretches the length of the Liverpool suburb, and over the years has hosted many shops and businesses. Rebekka O’Grady chats to those who currently call it home

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search