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Manchester's £650m Airport City master plan unveiled

Manchester's £650m Airport City master plan unveiled

A master for Manchester's £650m Airport City development was unveiled today as it emerged scores of firms are lining up to move in.

» Airports - UK | Friday, January 13, 2012 • Air News Times
Chancellor George Osborne was today unveiling the blueprint, which for the first time maps out exactly how the scheme, granted enterprise zone status by the government, will take shape.

The project, set to create up to 21,000 jobs, will be split into two zones, the first of which will be made-up of 1.85m sq ft of hotel, office, retail and advanced manufacturing space, all next to Manchester Airport's existing train station.

The second will focus on freight and logistics uses and will be created next to the airport's existing cargo centre, by junction six of the M56.

Bosses at MAG Developments,Manchester Airports Group's property arm, are set to submit a planning application within weeks for the scheme's main link road, with work set to start by spring and due for completion in 12-15 months.

MAG is also gearing up to carry out vital infrastructure work, such as landscaping, utility provision and the installation of high-speed broadband, all of which it will fund itself. That work will take up to three years to complete but will done in a way that allows individual office blocks and hotels to be built during the process.

Airport City director John Atkins told the M.E.N he expects work to start on some of these units by the end of next year, with MAG having received hundreds of inquiries from global businesses looking to move into the development.

Of those, 60 are considered to be “potential occupiers,” with advanced discussions already under way with potential tenants in the freight forwarding, aviation, leisure and advanced manufacturing sectors.

Manchester Airports Group chief executive Charlie Cornish 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.”

When the 150-acre Airport City is complete, there will be 1.5m sq ft of offices, 650,000 sq ft of advanced manufacturing space, up to 100,000sq ft of retail and leisure units, around 2,400 new hotel beds and 1.4m sq ft of logistics and warehousing units.

Next month, MAG will launch the search for a developer, a process which will run for six months.

Another key feature will be a landscaped 800m-long “Central Park” style public realm, with elements similar to those found in a city centre, such as shops, coffee houses, bars and restaurants. There will also be a large event space and a series of pavilions.

The whole plot will have a “central business district,” linked to the airport terminals and its new Metrolink station by a series of “green bridges”, modelled on those found in New York’s elevated urban park the Highline.

That will mean every part of the northern section of Airport City is within an eight-minute walk from the airport’s coach, bus and rail hub.

Manchester city council leader Sir Richard Leese 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.”
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