Greater Manchester’s Smart Growth Area: For Jobs, Homes and Connected Communities

The vision for Manchester’s Smart Growth Area was set out on the Manchester stand at MIPIM today and is the biggest new growth area in the city region. It contains one third of proposed new employment space and one sixth of new homes to be constructed in Greater Manchester in the next 18 years.

The vision for Manchester’s Smart Growth Area was set out on the Manchester stand at MIPIM today and is the biggest new growth area in the city region. It contains one third of proposed new employment space and one sixth of new homes to be constructed in Greater Manchester in the next 18 years.

This re-imagining of employment space and housing will span three strategically-important boroughs that are not currently realising their economic potential.

This will help re-shape the physical and commercial landscape of Greater Manchester and help leaders achieve their long-held ambition of creating a sustainable, low carbon, financially self-supporting region by lifting whole areas out of their current and sustained economic decline.

Creating new and higher-quality and better-connected opportunities close to desperately-needed new housing and social infrastructure will help rebalance Greater Manchester’s economy and reduce the need for longer, higher-polluting commutes across increasingly congested networks.

Manchester’s Smart Growth Area (hitherto known as the Northern Gateway) will connect this under-achieving section of the city region and its people to the growth that has passed them by for too long. It will connect three boroughs together and connect people to more secure futures in improved housing that is better connected to their employment and environment. It will better connect Greater Manchester to other regions and markets to the north and east.

The development area covers three sites of more than 20 million square feet of new mixed employment space and 10,900 new high-quality homes linked by new low-carbon transport infrastructure and 5G connectivity. Electric vehicle charging infrastructure will feature throughout and not be an afterthought.

Logistics centres will sit alongside advanced manufacturing, advanced materials production, renewables and green technologies. The existing skills base will be complemented by new links to Greater Manchester’s university sector, local colleges and schools. This improved range of opportunities (during construction and implementation) will energise the emerging jobs supply and provide a stronger and more resilient future for economically-disadvantaged communities.

Capitalising on its geographical position along the M62 corridor; Manchester’s Smart Growth Area’s three sites will be developed as a campus-style collection of developments that through innovative design will create desirable living spaces within easy reach of new and better job opportunities. New public transport links, walking routes and cycle ways will enhance liveability and provide residents and employees with greener leisure and commuting options.

Manchester’s Smart Growth Area will give people living in it and nearby a renewed sense of hope and vision – and after decades of uncertainty – a greater degree of certainty around the future. There are also significant benefits, including new jobs and additional expenditure, in the wider economy.

This is a nationally-significant area of investment and growth for Greater Manchester and the local authorities involved (Rochdale, Bury and Oldham) are seeking interest from investors and developers (both commercial and residential) at MIPIM 2019.

A masterplan identifies three strategic sites totalling more than 3,500 acres of land. Growth area 1 accounts for 64% of the total land area, equating to almost 660 ha of land, while Growth Area 2 and Growth Area 3 account for 24% and 13% respectively.

Based on a high-level capacity assessment it is estimated that these sites could accommodate around 10,860 new homes and 1.8 million sq m of new commercial floorspace. New accommodation will be delivered within a high-quality environment. In total, it is estimated that commercial accommodation delivered across the Masterplan area could accommodate approximately 40,100 gross FTE jobs and result in the creation of 23,400 net additional jobs at the Greater Manchester level.

Based on this level of employment growth, it is estimated that activity could generate a gross and net additional GVA impact of £2,177 million and £1,589 million per annum.


Northern Gateway 1

Northern Gateway 2

Northern Gateway 3












Today’s panel was introduced by Joanne Roney, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council and moderated by Stacey Meadwell, freelance editor and former regional features editor at Estates Gazette magazine for 20 years. The panellists on the session were:

  • David Russell, chief executive and founder of Alliance Group, an active developer in the North West, particularly in Rochdale who is passionate about the area
  • Jonathan Miley, Exterior Architecture, a landscape architect which is engaged by Manchester to build its Manchester Garden at Chelsea Flower show
  • Steve Rumbelow, Chief Executive of Rochdale Council representing the three local authorities involved in Manchester’s Smart Growth Area
  • Chris Cheap of Avison Young, an agent active in Greater Manchester an a specialist in the occupational and regeneration market
  • Stephen Hogg of JLL who has an in-depth knowledge of the investment and residential market in Greater Manchester

The development forms a key part of Greater Manchester’s Spatial Framework, the consultation phase of which ends next week.

The three main strategic sites identified for development under the new plans are:

Manchester’s Smart Growth Area Site

This will utilise land between junctions 18 and 19 of the M62 motorway, in Heywood and Pilsworth to the north and across the Simister, Bowlee and Birch and Langley areas to the south. Proposals for this area are the creation of 4,200 new homes and 13,000,000 sq ft of new employment space. A new rail connection could be developed from Heywood via Castleton, in addition to the extension of the tram to Middleton.


This will utilise land to the south of the M62 motorway close to junction 20. Proposals for this area are the creation of 900 new homes to the north of the site and around 2,700,000 sq ft of employment space adjacent to the existing Stakehill Industrial Estate. A new rail station to serve the site at Slattocks is being investigated by TfGM.

Kingsway South

This will utilise land to the south of the M62 motorway close to junction 21. Proposals for this area are the creation of 700 homes, 3,340,000 sq ft of employment space. A new roundabout at junction 21 to access land from the motorway will be one of the initiatives to help to unlock development potential of the site.

A masterplan document was prepared last year by IBI to make the case to GMCA for including the Bury, Oldham and Rochdale sites in the Greater Manchester spatial framework. Please note that not all of the sites suggested in the masterplan were ultimately included so the actual plans may have been superseded by the GMCA consultation documents that can be found here: https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing/greater-manchester-spatial-framework/gmsf-documents/

This document is 425 pages long, however, pages 201-19 are particularly relevant if you wish to read more about the strategic Greater Manchester context. An initial masterplan for the consultation process was prepared by IBI.

The local authorities involved are setting out the vision at MIPIM in order to at this stage want investors and developers to register their interest, there is a website in order to be added to our schedule of follow-up meetings post-MIPIM at www.smartgrowthmcr.co.uk.

This area is a key opportunity to support the future strategic growth of Greater Manchester for the creation of jobs, communities, infrastructure and technology in order to re-balance the GM economy.

Steve Rumbelow, Chief Executive of Rochdale Council said:

“We now have an opportunity to shape our own destiny using the attributes that we have already. We are sending a clear message about scale and ambition that should not be lost on people. We have the right infrastructure and natural surroundings; more so than many other places. Manchester's Smart Growth area will create opportunities for people to live and work here, while benefiting from first class connectivity that will enable residents to take advantage of opportunities elsewhere across the city region.”