Unlocking a new future for one of the fastest growing cities in Europe

Written by Barry Crichton, Regional Managing Director, Manchester at Avison Young

Following another successful year at UKREiiF, Barry Crichton, Regional Managing Director for Manchester at Avison Young │UK has shared his thoughts on Manchester's future and how one of Europe's fastest-growing cities can unlock future opportunities for growth.

We’re four years into a truly transformative decade for Manchester, driven by continued investment in developing a first-class built environment and a resolute commitment to sustainable growth. As one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, Manchester’s economic vitality is clear to see, even in the face of last year’s news regarding HS2 and the implications that this has in terms of our connectivity with other major UK cities.

As we look around our city, we are consistently reminded of the strategic and consistent leadership we've enjoyed for decades. We need to continue this mindset and seize the post-HS2 opportunities. It's not in our DNA to wait for Westminster to greenlight our region’s ambitions; we have a strong history of taking the future into our own hands.

The HS2 announcement should stimulate investment in previously safeguarded areas, allowing us to kickstart and refocus development. We need to look forward to substantial investment, free from HS2 uncertainty, and pivot to new, coordinated uses for our city's future.

Manchester is now a destination of choice for global businesses, and home to a highly educated workforce, a vibrant cultural offer, and multiple high-profile regeneration schemes set to enhance the future of our city and region, from Strangeways and Cambridge to Victoria North. Now, we need to continue to harness these critical advantages to drive sustainable growth and unlock new opportunity.

Visionary plans for urban renewal

The Strangeways and Cambridge area of Greater Manchester is one that is brimming with potential. This is already clearly identifiable through the Great Ducie Street area with the Manchester College now open and major development next door on site. Now, with a comprehensive plan being prepared for 320 acres of land crossing the border of Manchester and Salford, Avison Young, in collaboration with public and private sector partners, hopes to realise the full potential of the area.

The Strategic Regeneration Framework has the potential to transform Strangeways and Cambridge into a vibrant area for residents and businesses, with a focus on creating a sustainable and connected urban community. Its planned redevelopment is a testament to Greater Manchester’s strategic approach to urban regeneration, integrating modern design, dynamic public spaces and heritage preservation to attract investment and enhance community livelihoods – all led by strong, culturally aligned partnerships.

By breathing new life into this area, city authorities and private investors have a golden opportunity to drive greater growth in the area, creating an ecosystem that supports existing businesses, attracts new occupiers, and enables communities to thrive. The Strangeways and Cambridge Strategic Regeneration Framework is testing the catalytic impact of the relocation of Strangeways from the area, to unlock investment opportunities for Manchester, as well as support the region’s growing influence on a national and global stage.

Transforming the city region’s economic and social landscape

Moving into the city of Manchester, considerable investments have been made to bring forward new and ambitious developments designed to catalyse thriving communities and business ecosystems.

ID Manchester, a nearly £2bn investment to regenerate the University of Manchester’s north campus and create a bustling innovation district, is fast becoming the city’s central hub for the digital, tech and creative industries – promising to drive economic activity while creating an attractive proposition for businesses through ambitious, forward-thinking placemaking.

First Street, Manchester
First Street, Manchester

Similarly, First Street, a significant mixed-use scheme in central Manchester, home to the likes of Ford, Jacobs and Lonza, is bringing together high-quality office space, unrivalled amenities and modern apartment living in the heart of the city. With a further four phases of development planned, the scheme is set to provide an additional 750,000 sq ft of Grade A office space to meet the needs of local occupiers.

Other projects are aiming to transform vast swathes of the city centre into thriving residential communities, fit for current and future generations. Victoria North is a particularly significant scheme, the first phase of which will bring forward 15,000 new homes, better-connected public spaces, improved transport links and infrastructure, and expansive new green space in the form of City River Park, which will be one of Manchester’s largest green spaces.

Beyond the city centre, this growth continues to radiate outwards, with areas such as Wythenshawe, Salford, Stockport and Wigan seeing considerable investment being drawn in and new development taking place. It is critical that the boroughs of Greater Manchester are not left behind in this journey, and that the public and private sectors continue to collaborate to deliver the very best outcomes for residents – creating connected and sustainable communities that align with the needs and aspirations of the wider region.

A view of Salford's MediaCityUK from Trafford

Realising Manchester’s thriving future

The enthusiasm and optimism for Manchester’s future is palpable and turning that optimism into action will be key to unlocking the bright future on the region’s horizon. The next decade in particular promises to be a defining period, with strategic investments and visionary projects setting the stage for a truly transformative urban landscape.

It’s a future that Avison Young is excited to support, ensuring Manchester not only grows but thrives as a blueprint for urban innovation, community development and economic growth. As we advance, our commitment remains strong to foster an entire region where businesses, investors, and communities can flourish together.

Both the public and private sectors have had a role to play in attracting brilliant businesses and investors that see Manchester’s potential and promise – and our role over the next decade is to deliver on that, continuing to cement the region’s reputation as a preferred destination for residents and businesses, and helping to shape a prosperous future.