Airport City Manchester has announced that Argent has ended its involvement with the £1bn development proposed at the airport, but said the departure was always planned to happen after the initial “scoping work” was completed.
Manchester Airports Group, lead partner in the joint venture to deliver Airport City Manchester, said “an in-house development management team” would now be recruited to oversee the next phases of the development project. The search for a managing director and a sales and marketing director of Airport City Manchester has begun.
MAG said Argent was “appointed to support Airport City Manchester in its initial phases of land assembly, business planning and place-making, [and] has now completed its scope of work. With all the land now acquired and clear financial, marketing and delivery plans in place, the Airport City project continues to grow in strength.”
Argent was part of the consortium, alongside Greater Manchester Pension Fund and construction giant Carillion, selected in April 2013 by MAG following a development contest.
The new-look team will oversee the circa £1bn development and report directly into the joint venture board, comprising representatives of the international, national and regional partners. Part of the Manchester Enterprise Zone, Airport City Manchester is a joint venture between Manchester Airports Group, Beijing Construction Engineering Group, Carillion, and Greater Manchester Pension Fund.
Simon Eastwood, managing director at Carillion Developments, said: “We have now reached an important phase of the project, we are on-site delivering infrastructure and during 2016 we will begin to bring forward the first new buildings on Airport City North.
“Our preliminary arrangement, with Argent, has served the project well by preparing an ambitious and workable masterplan and delivering effective collaboration between the partners and a multi-disciplinary team of respected professionals.”
BCEG director, Lau Yew Cheong, said: “This year is shaping up to be a very significant one for Airport City. The enterprise zone is already creating jobs and attracting high profile firms, including Amazon, which is moving to Global Logistics. We are seeing increased levels of interest and are building our joint-venture team to deal with the requirements of the next phase of the development.”
Lynda Shillaw, MAG Property CEO, said: “Building upon the very positive momentum achieved to date, we are stepping up our focus on deals. The many attributes of the location and scheme are certainly resonating with prospective occupiers and investors. We are excited to be attracting serious interest and gearing up accordingly to advance scheme delivery.”
David Partridge, managing partner at Argent, said: “We are happy to have supported the Airport City Joint Venture through its early years and to have established a sound platform from which the scheme can continue to develop. We look forward to the continued success of the venture, which is undoubtedly one of the most important developments within the Northern Powerhouse.”
If fully delivered, Airport City Manchester would comprise 5m sq ft of offices, alongside hotels, advanced manufacturing, logistics facilities and ancillary retail across 160 acres.
Within the development is the new China Cluster, a £130m part of Airport City based around two campuses – Wuhan Square and Shenzhen Gardens – together totalling 45,000 sq metres of space.