MIPIM: Chinese backers address Manchester delegation

Paul Unger in Cannes

Airport City will help reduce future gridlocking in Manchester city centre by expanding the business base from a new destination, according to Wang Weibo, director of Beijing Engineering & Construction Group.

Mr Wang, speaking after an official stand event to introduce the BCEG to the Manchester partners at MIPIM, told Place North West he was not concerned with critics who say the £800m scheme may not be successfully delivered as proposed because it is not central enough and will not attract sufficient occupier interest. He replied: "I think when you look at cities in China that have road congestion problems and people can't get around the city centre it is clear that to expand from the old centre will not benefit the city. Airport City is a new centre, a different location which will be very well connected by tram and train, as well as road, to get into the city centre in a few minutes without a problem if you need."

Mr Wang, on his first visit to MIPIM, said Airport City Manchester was the launch project for a new European business established last year by BCEG. He and his colleagues would wait to see the achievements of the project before deciding where the next project would be. That said, he added: "It is very possible the second project would be in the UK as we are very comfortable there and are learning the UK way of doing business. We are keen to learn to do in Rome as Rome does."

Also speaking at the event was David Partridge, managing partner of Argent, preferred developer for Airport City Manchester. He said the project was not just about property but was about connectivity and reflected Manchester's ambition to become increasingly international.

BCEG was announced as a 20% partner in Airport City Manchester in October 2013. Construction firm Carillion also has 20% and Greater Manchester Pension Fund 10%. Manchester Airports Group has the remaining 50% share.

Outline planning consent is in place for 5m sq ft of mixed development including offices, hotels, advanced manufacturing units and warehousing. DHL was announced as the first occupier at Airport City Manchester in November 2013, taking a 37,308 sq ft bespoke logistics building.

JLL and CBRE are the retained letting agents.

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