Manchester’s £650m Airport City master plan unveiled

 Manchester Airports Group has produced its plans for an 150 acre Airport City , close to Manchester Airport. In April 2011 Government announced that Manchester Airport would be one of the first four Enterprise Zones, with Airport City at the core of the zone.  The  Airport City (also elsewhere called an Aerotropolis) would be in two zones, one with hotel, office, retail and advanced manufacturing space, and the other focusingn on freight and logistics. MAG will 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. The rest of the building will take several years. MAG hopes to attract global businesses to work in their airport city, and create a project to compete with other locations in Barcelona, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Dusseldorf and Heathrow.


January 12, 2012  (Manchester Evening News)

An artist's impression of the completed Airport City 
An artist’s impression of the completed Airport City

Manchester’s £650m Airport City master plan unveiled

    … Slideshow and video on the website too  …

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

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.”  

Manchester Airport’s website (6th April 2011) says:

Airport City to commence at Manchester Airport in 2012

Following the Chancellor’s introduction of 21 new Enterprise zones to stimulate economic growth and employment, the Government announced that Manchester Airport would be one of the first four Enterprise Zones, with Airport City at the core of the zone.

The Airport City location is one of only a few to be confirmed and following today’s agreement from the Council Executive, the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) will be working alongside other stakeholders and local authorities to bring forward proposals for a definitive boundary and the required governance arrangements for the zone as soon as possible. Now that the core proposition has been endorsed, phase 1 of the development will now go out for public consultation.

Charlie Cornish, Chief Executive of the Manchester Airports Group, welcomed the news saying: “This announcement represents a significant achievement for the Greater Manchester region and an exciting opportunity to move forward with the Airport City proposal so that we can realise the potential for creating over 7,000 jobs, while seeing additional revenues re-invested throughout Greater Manchester. In partnership with our key stakeholders, we will be progressing the project straight away and looking to build on this opportunity for the region.”

MAG Developments, the property development arm of the Group, has been working on the masterplan for the site and was endorsed for consultation today (6th April) by the Manchester City Council Executive. Urban Strategies, Drivers Jonas Deloitte and Jones Lang Lasalle have assisted on the preparation of the masterplan.

John Atkins, Managing Director of MAG Developments, said: “ We welcome the agreement of the Council Executive as it allows us to prepare for a start on site early in 2012. The designation of the Airport City as an Enterprise Zone last week underlined the importance of making quick progress on the site and will allow us to move ahead with the development and infrastructure framework.”

Airport City is a concept, the first phase of which is located on land between the airport and Wythenshawe, to the north of the airport. It will connect the initial development close to the airport with a wider set of opportunities within Wythenshawe including the University Hospital of South Manchester’s (UHSM) Medipark initiative and the regeneration of the Town Centre.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Airport City will see the creation of thousands of jobs which will be critical to ensure the city’s success as we emerge from the economic downturn. It also provides us with a unique opportunity to significantly accelerate Manchester’s economic growth and realise our ambitions for the airport as a global business destination. As we move into a consultation process, we welcome comments on this important development.”

While Airport City will be a uniquely different proposition, it will aim to build upon the global connectivity of the airport and create a project to compete with other locations in Barcelona, Amsterdam and Dusseldorf.  Airport cities require infrastructure capacity and an ability to grow the network of direct air routes; first class ground transportation and associated developable land assets to support the new function. All of these are available at Manchester Airport.

Businesses that are expected to want to locate at Airport City will include logistics, freight forwarders, advanced manufacturers, those seeking high quality office accommodation, research and development, health related uses to build on the proximity to Wythenshawe Hospital as a centre of excellence, visitor accommodation, hotels and leisure uses to support the delivery of Airport City.

As announced during the Budget, the Enterprise Zones are expected to benefit from a business rate discount worth up to £275,000 per eligible business over a five year period, while all business rate growth within the zone for a period of at least 25 years will be shared and retained by the local area, to ensure that Enterprise Zone growth is reinvested locally.

It is anticipated that detailed planning applications will be ready to be submitted, subject to the public consultation, by the end of 2011 and work on the first phase of Airport City will begin in 2012.

To contact MAG Developments and register interest in the Airport City proposal, call 0800 8499 747 or see the website at:  


see also

New Airport City Director announced, as MAG prepares to issue ‘Expression of Interest Document’ early in new year


Wikipedia says, on the subject of Airport Cities (somewhat biased towards them!):

Airport city


 Airport city is a term for an “inside the fence” airport area including the airport (terminals, apron, and runways) and on-airport businesses such as air cargo, logistics, offices, retail, and hotels. The airport city is at the core of the aerotropolis, a new urban form evolving around many major airports.

The airport city model recognises that an airport can do more than perform its traditional aeronautical services, evolving new non-aeronautical commercial facilities, services and revenue streams. Airports are now routinely targeting non-aeronautical revenue streams amounting to 40–60% of their total revenues. Industry leaders and researchers share best practices on non-aeronautical revenues for airports at conferences and in literature, including refereed literature.[1][2]

With airports typically surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of hectares of undeveloped land that acts as an environmental buffer for nearby residents, it has been recognised that airports are sitting on a potential goldmine of real estate opportunities.[3][4]

Office blocks, hotels, convention centres, medical facilities, free trade zones and even entertainment and theme parks can be built to generate new sources of revenue for the airport operator and make the airport a business or tourism destination in its own right.[5]

The airport city concept consists of a number of logically combined elements that reinforce each other. Services and facilities are designed to guide travelers easily through the airport process. Access is key for passengers, cargo, businesses, and residents, many of whom work in the airport city.


Airport Cities may be found in varying stages of development surrounding major airports worldwide, particularly in Europe, where older airports are being redeveloped or expanded on large tracts of unused airport land.  Many new airports in Asia are being planned as Airport Cities or Aerotropoli.  North America, South America, and even Africa all boast airport city and aerotropolis developments.

While there is not yet a quantitative model or listing of Airport Cities, a qualitative list has been developed by researchers at the Center for Air Commerce at the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This list is updated frequently as new projects are announced and economic development related to airports accelerates. Sites are noted as being “operational” or “under development.”  The list is available at

Airports currently with an Aerotropolis or Airport City in Europe:

Amsterdam Schiphol
Frankfurt International
Paris Charles de Gaulle
Athens International
City Airport Bremen
London Heathrow
Munich International
Vienna International

and those being developed:


and Wikipedia on Aerotropolis at