MIX Manchester, MIX Manchester, p Inform

Sheppard Robson has designed the masterplan for MIX Manchester. Credit: Virtual Planit

Airport City prepares for take-off with new name, new masterplan

Pivoting away from commercial offices towards advanced manufacturing and science, the 60-acre project has given itself a new moniker: MIX Manchester.

The rebrand of Airport City comes after several years of speculation about the £1bn project’s future after plans for 5m sq ft of offices seemed to be going nowhere.

During that time, it now appears that a rethink was happening between the scheme’s joint venture partners: Columbia Threadneedle Real Estate, Manchester Airports Group, Beijing Construction Engineering Group International, and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund.

The result of that rethink: a promise to bring forward 2m sq ft of laboratories, research and development facilities, manufacturing spaces, and offices – alongside public realm, three hotels, and leisure venues.

An estimated 8,000 jobs will be created in the process, according to the project team.

Sheppard Robson has drawn up the masterplan for MIX Manchester, having worked on the under-wraps scheme for the past two years. A strategic regeneration framework is due to go to consultation this summer, with the assistance of planner CBRE.

Agents are already appointed for the site as well, with JLL and Track Real Estates charged with finding occupiers for the project.

MIX Manchester , MIX Manchester, p Inform

CBRE is the planning consultant for MIX Manchester. Credit: Virtual Planit

The past and future

MIX Manchester’s previous iteration, Airport City, had its masterplan crafted in 2012. The southern half of the site became Global Logistics, an 821,000 sq ft logistics estate that was sold to Icon Industrial in 2017.

The northern part, the section that now makes up MIX Manchester, struggled. At the time, the £1bn scheme was meant to deliver 5m sq ft of offices on this plot. This included a 1m sq ft THG campus that never came to fruition.

Thus, the need for change.

“In recent years, we have seen occupier demand move away from traditional out-of-town offices,” explained Manchester Airports Group property director Gareth Jackson.

“This trend, coupled with rapid growth in the advanced manufacturing, life sciences, digital, and technology economies and the requirement for highly sustainable work environments has led us to adapt our plans for the next phase of commercial development,” he continued.

Jackson also referred to the work that was accomplished during the 12-year period since the Airport City masterplan was brought in.

There has been £30m of infrastructure investment in the form of electricity connections, a pedestrian bridge with links to Manchester Airport, and the Enterprise Way link road.

This, the MIX Manchester team said, makes the project a “shovel-ready” site, primed to become, in Jackson’s words, “Manchester’s innovation gateway”.

MIX Manchester , MIX Manchester, p Inform

Autumn is the target for when the MIX Manchester SRF will go before the city council. Credit: Virtual Planit


Samantha Hadland, senior asset manager at Columbia Threadneedle, played up MIX Manchester’s proximity to the airport.

“Being situated next to an international airport which links 28m passengers a year, MIX Manchester opens a global opportunity for science and innovation businesses wanting to locate in the North West, in particular the burgeoning advanced manufacturing sector,” she said.

“With world-class universities and research institutions on the doorstep with immediate access to secure, global logistics connections through Manchester Airport’s World Freight Terminal, occupiers will have access to an incredible talent pool and unrivalled global connectivity.”

Manchester City Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig pointed out that the new MIX Manchester framework plays into the city’s economic strengths.

“The vision for MIX Manchester presents another significant investment in our city that enhances our reputation as a centre of excellence in science and innovation – and a further platform for economic growth in our emerging industries,” she said.

“The campus will create thousands of jobs and support the ongoing regeneration of our communities in Wythenshawe, as well as cementing Manchester’s place as a leader in innovation on a global scale.”

What’s next?

After MIX Manchester’s public consultation this summer, the team hopes to put forward the modified strategic regeneration framework to Manchester City Council this autumn.

MIX Manchester is set to join a robust line-up of science and technology-focussed developments in Manchester, including the £1.7bn ID Manchester from Bruntwood SciTech and the University of Manchester, and the £450m Upper Brook Street masterplan from Property Alliance Group, Moda, McLaren Property Group, and Kadans – a project that includes 215,000 sq ft of labs.

In terms of other schemes focussed on advanced manufacturing, there is the Atom Valley Mayoral Development Zone in Bury, Oldham, and Rochdale. Atom Valley will seek to deliver 17m sq ft of employment space to create a “mega cluster” for advanced materials in the northern part of Greater Manchester.

Your Comments

Read our comments policy

Great stuff. Manchester going from strength to strength yet again

By Steve

A mega cluster ? It sounds painful but I want to be involved! Some major development hopefully driving more high tech and high value jobs in the future. It can only be a good thing.

By Johnny Rocketpants

this will never happen

By Biggles

The truth is, out of town business parks, no matter how thoughtfully developed they are, always feel stale, soulless, and claustrophobic. Most people do not like working in them. You only need to look at the recent comments from developers who prefer Apple’s base at Battersea Power Station to its perfectly isolated headquarters in Cupertino. It makes sense for cargo and logistics businesses to be near to the airport but organisations that want to attract the best talent will naturally look to town and city centres that feel alive and have their own character.

By Mancunian

Works in Liverpool don’t see why it can’t work at Ringway

By Anonymous

Can we have something imaginative

By Anonymous

This is happening babe

By @Biggles

Ah Biggles, you don’t say ? As the source of insider news and knowledge Please share the devastating news with the rest of the community. We are wide eyed with anticipation 🙄

By The Red Baron

Feels like a smart move. Watching with interest.

By Chateau Musar

Failing to see why this location will work for science and innovation businesses. Proximity to an airport is not a necessary requirement for success nor is “shovel ready” land.

Alderley Park, Daresbury, Thornton Science Park, Hurdsfield have all got more momentum, a positioning in the market and plenty of opportunities to support new growth. Can’t wait to read the underpinning commercial analysis!!

By Anonymous

My god what next..building city,port city,railway city,tram city.

By Mark

This is all very positive, but are they going to do anything about that ghastly T3 & T1 experience? How can Manchester be a world-class city when its gateway arrival experience is truly dreadful.

By Anonymous

Manchester Airport is once again fooling itself. It may be a very large source of outbound leisure and VFR traffic but it is no genuine hub airport, like Heathrow or Schiphol. It has no attraction for global research bases or corporate HQs; its quality long haul network is a shadow of its former self and its management knows only how to milk its passengers for every last drop of revenue.

By Zara

Zara I guess they should’ve asked you for your input when they came to develop this. I guess they’ll just have to manage like all development around Manchester and see how that goes. My money’s on them.

By Anonymous

Splendid news. It can join that whole life sciences corridor that has been developing down Oxford Rd.

By Anonymous

Are there any similar developments around other airports that can be benchmark?

By Just saying!

Surely all this concentration in one city area is not good for the NW, places like Chester, Preston, Daresbury, Crewe , Lancaster, hoping to grow their economies will suffer. Mr Burnham says he cares about the North but it doesn’t seem like it, he wants everything.

By Anonymous

Burnham is Manchester’s Mayor. He wasn’t elected to promote Lancaster and Preston.

By Elephant

Zara, well put, at least somebody commenting on here lives in the real world

By Anonymous

Good stuff. I hope they crack on and get building – more jobs, more activity and two fingers to the concept of getting on our knees and begging for crumbs of support from weaselly Westminster types

By Grubby Northener

Who cares whether it’s not Heathrow or Schiphol. The point is that it’s expanding and attracting investment.
Someone get a peg for my nose.

By The jealousy in these comments STINK

Well given the abject lack of progress in getting non-warehouse or hotel lettings over the line in the last ten years, let’s just take this rebrand with a bit of salt shall we until it actually bears fruit. As some have suggested it’s in competition with many other sites for the same occupiers.

And on another note, can we also finally lay to rest the approach to regeneration and addressing regional inequalities that sees tax breaks as a panacea. If you remember this was the coalition government’s magic solution once they’d dismantled the previous devolved and well resourced funding streams / structures in the RDAs. Doubtless we’ll go through the same tedious debates in another few years when politicians try to come up with another short term solution to addressing the ‘north south divide’ and come up with the same ideas but repackaged.

By Anonymous

Not sure of the animosity towards this one. I think everyone can agree that out of town offices are no longer an option, whilst residential in this key employment zone doesn’t feel right either. This looks the best of the options available. Hopefully they can strike whilst the very visble market is there (and not miss th cycle like the last time around). Good luck!

By Baffled

Hugely exciting, we would love to be involved in this project!

By Anthony King

Related Articles

Sign up to receive the Place Daily Briefing

Join more than 13,000 property professionals and receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox


Join more than 13,000 property professionals and sign up to receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox.

By subscribing, you are agreeing to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

"*" indicates required fields

Your Job Field*
Other regional Publications - select below