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Airport City masterplan unveiled

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has been in the North West to unveil plans for the development of the £659 million Airport City, which will be based at Manchester Airport.

A detailed masterplan of the project, which was awarded Enterprise Zone status last March, has been created by Manchester Airports Group (MAG).

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 in the UK.

It is estimated the site, which will become fully operational from April 2012, 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.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of 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.”

There will be two core Airport City zones. The first is a development area next to the airport’s existing railway station and to north of the M56, which will focus on hotel, office, retail and advanced manufacturing uses – while a second area adjacent to the existing cargo centre at Junction 6 of the M56, will focus on freight and logistics uses.

Over the next 12 to15 years, Airport City will deliver 1.5 million sq ft of office space, up to 100,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space, 650,000 sq ft of advanced manufacturing space, 104 million sq ft of logistics and warehousing facilities and around 2,500 hotel beds.

According to the masterplan, 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 York’s elevated urban park, the Highline.

Every part of the northern Airport City zone will be within an eight-minute walk from the airport’s 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 in 2016.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said that Airport City will fill the gap in the market that currently exists for a high-quality and well-connected environment for businesses.

“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.”

By Kirsty Hewitt

Airport City masterplan unveiled
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