‘Strong drivers’ will help Manchester, Liverpool bounce back

Post-Covid recovery in the region’s two biggest cities will be driven by Manchester’s economic expansion over the past five years and buoyant build-to-rent sector, and Liverpool’s busy port and associated industries, as well as momentum in life sciences, Avison Young said.

The real estate consultancy’s 2021 Forecast reports for Liverpool and Manchester noted that Manchester has been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic but that previous economic expansion, especially in the services sector, and a growing number of businesses setting up in the city will help to cushion the blow this year.

High levels of activity in the residential capital markets will also contribute significantly to Manchester’s post-Covid economic recovery. The city has become a hotspot for the booming BTR sector, Avison Young noted, and demand among investors is likely to continue in 2021, driven by rapid population growth, business investment and strong retention of university talent.

Another driver for recovery is the city-region’s industrial investment market, which has gone from “strength to strength”, the report said. Greater clarity on Brexit is likely to further increase levels of activity in this sector.

Meanwhile, the office market has been relatively slow in 2020 – particularly when it comes to large transactions – but mid-size office requirements “will rebound in time, as businesses take a view on their occupational needs and the benefits of good quality office space”. Manchester is also likely to see its fair share of central government relocations from London as part of the ‘levelling up’ agenda.


Chris Cheap

Chris Cheap, principal and managing director of Avison Young’s Manchester office, said: “2020 taught us that making predictions is something of a mug’s game, however as the vaccine roll-out provides more confidence, and the new reality emerges, there are some very clear dynamics that Manchester has the resilience and flexibility to react to brilliantly.

“Addressing the various issues created by the pandemic for our communities across Greater Manchester is clearly still going to take a significant amount time, with the need for the public and private sector working together to deliver the right solutions.”

Avison Young’s Liverpool forecast report noted that Liverpool was achieving strong growth relative to the North West region and the rest of the UK prior to the onset of Covid-19.

In particular, the expanding Knowledge Quarter – already home to several world-leaders in infectious disease, digital health and advanced manufacturing – will be “critical to attracting more like-minded businesses and investment into the city in 2021”, the report said.

Liverpool’s active and important port will be another key driver of the city’s economic recovery. In particular, possible increased trade between the UK and US following Brexit, as well as the city’s bid for ‘free port’ status, add to the positive outlook.

If the bid is successful, free port status would provide the Liverpool City Region with advantageous tax conditions, catalysing development in areas surrounding the port.

Stephen Cowperthwaite Headshot 2018

Stephen Cowperthwaite

Meanwhile, the Government has also committed to moving 22,000 civil service jobs out of London and Liverpool’s strengths in life sciences could attract the likes of NHS England, according to Avison Young. Other opportunities for increased inward investment could come in the form of increased reshoring of call centres and Liverpool’s strong cultural, retail and leisure offering.

Stephen Cowperthwaite, principal and managing director at Avison Young in Liverpool, said: “After this latest period of lockdown, although recovery will take time, the resilience demonstrated by the local economy means there is a firm foothold to launch Liverpool’s recovery in 2021.

“Some trends, such as an increase in flexible working and deglobalisation – shifts that were already taking place but have been accelerated during the pandemic – are here to stay.

“But as a city, we know where our strengths lie and that allows us to home in on those sectors and show the world that Liverpool is primed to bounce back.”


Your Comments

Read our comments policy

It’ll be Liverpool’s time. Manchester will suffer due to years of neglect, a rush to build too many empty offices and apartments with dodgy cladding, aswell as failure to maintain roads and public spaces mean people will have no reason to return to the city.

By Floyd

When you look at the speculation as to where civil service relocations from London will be sited there is no mention of Liverpool, only Leeds, Manchester, and the North East, predictably all the usual favoured destinations for government investments and infrastructure projects like HS2.
It doesn`t matter how much Liverpool has to offer in terms of workforce, expertise and attractive location, we get ignored – so much for the city’s “drivers towards a post-covid recovery”.

By Anonymous

Preston? Lancaster? Chester? Warrington? What can be done to mitigate Liverpool and Manchester continuing to create a huge gulf in investment between the big cities and smaller cities? Especially when it comes to retail changes. Not everyone lives in Liverpool and Manchester.

By Anonymous

Anonymous – I share your concern, that’s why we need to keep investing in the North West rail network. As for retail, you suspect nearly every town except city centre Liverpool, Manchester and the Trafford Centre are going to need to do something different because big concentrations of brand name physical retail are probably not coming back ever, and maybe that’s a good thing, a chance to localise, differentiate the offer, create mixed use places.

By Rich X

Yes, Manchester does seem to be powering ahead . But this is due mostly to long term commitment to building offices and attracting so many large hi tech companies, huge investment in apartments in places where young people want to live and continued spending on transport infrastructure like the Metrolink. It’s proved a winning formula for years now and with huge investment from the Middle East as in Eastlands, Chinese investment like Airport City and now the Government in terms of HS2 and various Government departments coming,the gap in investment between Manchester and other cities just seems to be widening by the month.

By Boyd

Liverpool needs to get a HS2 / NPR station (likely strand), Free port status, and one of the more hefty government departments. This would be a huge boon for the city and kickstart it once more. Also, needs a decent mayor and a more friendly approach to builders.

Re Manchester – dodgy cladding I definitely agree with! I also think they are building too many poor-quality flats in the city. Officesthough I think is a good thing and something Liverpool ought to build more of!

By Chris

Why is the comment section always full of people from Liverpool having a pop at Manchester. Concentrate on your own City and you never know some of this investment might start to find its way to your city.

By Bob

There is a lot of talk about HS2, but frankly I would like to see our existing rail links improved and extended. How great does it look to get off a shiny new HS train to then step on a draughty old DMU to reach the final destination. Local electrification would speed up regional travel and make it cleaner. In Merseyside you have the Merseyrail system come to buffers where you then transfer to a slow irregular diesel service if you want to go further, its so dated for the modern day. We should also be looking to link Liverpool Airport to the rail network.

By Carl

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