Manchester’s ability to pull in heavyweight international investment, built on years of political stability and the strength of its combined authority, has placed it ahead of its regional competitors, a panel session at the national RESI conference in Newport was told.
The panel, featuring David Pringle, director of the Co-operative Group’s NOMA project, looked at “Devolved Thinking: London vs the Rest”.
Pringle said: “Manchester is probably a few steps ahead of everybody else with devolution in the regional cities – there’s already a £300m fund in place that can be drawn on. Transport is obviously key, but in getting control over the skills agenda, Manchester has more ability to put skills where they’re needed, rather than be told by government. Manchester wants to work with major, long-term investors, not easy-in easy-out investors.”
Along with the Abu Dhabi-backed housing close to the Etihad campus in the east of the inner city, Pringle said the Northern Gateway, of which NOMA is part, will be a key area of focus as Manchester looks to reach ambitious housing targets. The combined sites, within NOMA, Lower Irk Valley, Collyhurst and New Cross cover 370 acres and could support up to 7,000 new homes.
He told the audience: “It’s a big chunk of housing – there will be two regeneration frameworks, and the city is now looking for a partner to deliver housing. We do need more family housing close to the city if we are to reach the jobs targets the city council has set out.” Northern Gateway goes before the council’s executive for approval this week.
John Connolly of Hong Kong-based investment group Far East Consortium International was also on the panel. He said: “I see Manchester as a location with good levers and an understanding that city growth is about diversity – there’s a joined-up, holistic approach, which is what investors want to see.”