Planning approval granted for Manchester's £650m Airport City development

17 January 2012

Boost for Government’s Enterprise Zone as ‘Airport City’ plan to create 11,400 jobs is granted planning approval


£650 million plans to develop a major new business district  at Manchester Airport have been approved by Manchester City Council – and airport operator M.A.G is set to commence infrastructure works on the site, which is Government-designated Enterprise Zone, within weeks.


The Airport City Manchester development includes new offices, industrial units, hotels,  retail and leisure facilities and is set create 11,400 jobs over the next ten to 15 years and will provide a major boost for local people, the region’s construction industry and local supply chains.


The first of its kind in the UK, it will compete with existing airport city and ‘aerotropolis’ projects, such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Copenhagen – attracting global businesses to the North West, creating a hub for multi-national businesses that require access to a major city and international markets, to move people and goods across the world.


Airport City is also the focal point of the Enterprise Zone for Greater Manchester, which surrounds the UK’s third busiest airport, and includes areas around University Hospital South Manchester (UHSM) and Wythenshawe; one of the UK’s most socially economically deprived areas.



It will be one of the best connected employment sites in the region – with easy access to the passenger terminals and the transport interchange. A new spine road will provide easy access to the motorway network. Initial construction and enabling works for the creation of the new road will commence in March 2013.


A new Metrolink extension through Wythenshawe is under construction and will link Airport City to Greater Manchester’s successful tram network by 2016. A new landscaped 'green bridge' will connect the new ‘mini-city’ to the Airport and its public transport interchange, making the site one of the most accessible in the region. Manchester Airport provides international air connections to over 200 destinations worldwide and its ground transport interchange offers extensive train, coach and bus services across the North.


M.A.G’s Airport City Director, John Atkins, said: “The planning approval is a major milestone, underlining the progress made in the last twelve months and enables us to progress to the delivery stage in 2013, driving forward opportunities to attract investment and create jobs.


“Manchester is already well-established as the global gateway for the North – Airport City will not only enhance this status, but also further the city’s ambition to become a major European and global business city, by bringing a world-class commercial product that is sustainable and innovative to the UK for the first time.”



A new 13 acre central park surrounded by a ‘downtown’ district of distinctive new buildings and high quality public areas, forms the centrepiece. Buildings will be approximately three to eight storeys in height, with the tallest buildings located furthest away from the residential area north of the site.


New retail and amenities will occupy the ground floor of key buildings to create a ‘high street’, including: shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, crèches, health and medical centres and leisure facilities. The supporting amenities enable the development to be self-sustaining, generate footfall and will benefit residents in the surrounding areas. Hotels spread across the site will include new conference, event and catering space.



Airport City aims to attract inward investment and provide new employment opportunities for Wythenshawe residents. Jobs during the construction phases will be in addition to 11,400 permanent 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.


Employment, education and training programmes are underway to maximise the use of local labour and supply chains – aiming to ensure the people of Woodhouse Park, and throughout Wythenshawe, can access the jobs created as a result of Airport City.


The outline planning application for Airport City (North) was submitted to Manchester City Council in November 2012, following extensive public consultations in the local area by M.A.G, the parent company of Manchester Airport.


The planning application was approved by the Planning and Highways Committee on 17 January 2013. The site is the northern component of Airport City, currently referred to as Airport City (North) and is also part of the Greater Manchester Enterprise Zone.


In November 2012, M.A.G was granted outline planning approval for the £100 million World Logistics Hub development – the southern part of the Enterprise Zone. This is an expansion of the Airport’s Freight terminal area and will create 1,800 jobs, providing 1.4 million square feet of logistics space and 36.6 acres of new landscaping and natural habitats.



For more information – or to request hi-res CGI images – please contact the M.A.G press office on +44 (0)161 489 2705 or


Notes to editor:


• The Airport City Manchester project will create around five million square feet of new business space in total over the next ten to 15 years – including Airport City (North), World Logistics Hub and other sites within the Airport’s operational area. Further information is available at:


• The Airport City (North) development site is a 65 acre area of land to the north of Manchester Airport’s terminals and railway station, bordered by the M56 spur road and the Woodhouse Park area of Wythenshawe. The majority of the site currently consists of two areas of temporary long-stay airport car parking, plus some scrubland.


• The development 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 public realm, public and open-space, including a 13 acre central park area

New multi storey car parking spaces and cycle spaces, including a bicycle hub

An iconic landscaped pedestrian 'green bridge' over the M56 spur

A natural habitat corridor linking to off-site green spaces to encourage wildlife

Provision of new community facilities to promote use of the area outside working hours


• Manchester Airport is the only major UK airport other than London Heathrow with two full-length runways and flies 20 million passengers annually to around 200 destinations. It also has spare capacity to significantly grow and further establish its role as the direct long-haul gateway for the North.


• M.A.G (Manchester Airports Group) is the largest UK-owned airport operator, serving 24 million passengers and handling almost half a million tonnes of air freight every year through its ownership and operation of Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports. M.A.G’s three airports and property business contribute more than £3bn to the UK economy and support over 86,000 jobs.


• The wider Manchester Airport City Enterprise Zone totals 116 hectares, anchored by Manchester Airport and University Hospital South Manchester (UHSM). In addition to M.A.G’s Airport City projects, is also include proposals for a MediPark at UHSM, Wythenshawe town centre and a series of smaller, surrounding, opportunity sites – all linked by the new Metrolink extension. In total it will create up to 20,000 new jobs over the next 15 years.


• In February 2012, Abu Dhabi-based airline, Etihad Airways, opened its European Contact Centre at Manchester Airport, which was selected ahead of seven competing European cities, including Brussels and Dublin.  Other businesses already located within close proximity of the Airport City development site, include the global headquarters of PZ Cussons; Swedish investment bank, Handelsbanken; and a new bio-medical headquarters for Waters Corporation.


• Manchester-based 5plus Architects worked on the plans along with Drivers Jonas Deloitte and Jones Lang LaSalle, Urban Strategies Inc. Altrincham-based Planit are designing landscape and public realm areas, while AECOM and Davis Langdon are advising on transportation, energy, utilities, sustainability and cost consultancy.


• Global property advisor, CBRE, is also assisting M.A.G in the procurement of a delivery partner for the project, with the deadline for expressions of interest from international development and investment partners set to close on 21 January 2013. More details available via




Published on: 17/01/2013 17:00:00