In this month’s report, rather than looking at the residential market across Greater Manchester as a whole, we will focus on the market in the City of Manchester itself.
Background and economy
The City of Manchester has a population of 520,000, although it spreads out into the adjacent boroughs taking the wider urban population to 2.8m. The city has grown fast from 440,000 residents a decade ago and is forecast to grow to 625,000 by 2025.
From industrial roots, the city economy is now heavily service-orientated with the main employers being financial services, law, real estate, technology, media, creative and digital industries, public administration, health and education, transport and retail. The city has been a beneficiary of ‘north shoring’ in recent years as companies have located here to take advantage of lower overheads and a skilled workforce.
The recent ‘City Space Race’ from the Centre for Cities says that Manchester has had the highest city centre population growth (149% 2002-2015) and highest city centre jobs growth (84% 1998-2015) of any England and Wales city in recent years.
Northern Powerhouse and city devolution: Little has happened since the Northern Powerhouse proposals were announced in 2014 – save the launch of Transport for the North (TfN) to co-ordinate northern transport strategy, and city devolution in Liverpool and Manchester. However, Greater Manchester is something of a flagship for the city devolution programme. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), headed by Andy Burnham as elected Greater Manchester Mayor, assumed a number of powers formerly held by the Government together with budgetary control over them in 2017. Its main areas of responsibility include housing, planning, economic growth and business support, skills, transport, policing, justice and health.
The Northern Hub plans to improve north of England rail services are beginning to have an impact on services into and through Manchester. The once run down Victoria Station has been refurbished making the adjacent area more attractive for development. There are now more and faster services to Liverpool and Newcastle, while faster services to Bolton, Preston and Scotland will commence once electrification of the line is completed later this year. Late 2018 will see new trains and more capacity on routes to Leeds and elsewhere in Yorkshire. Line improvements should also see better rail services to Sheffield and Nottingham by 2021.
Transport in the city itself is presently not well integrated. However, the longer term ambitions of the GMCA and Transport
for Greater Manchester (TfGM) using its devolved powers could see future improvements that could have significant implications for the economy here. A London-style Oyster card usable on all public transport has been in planning for some time. TfGM is currently considering how a London Transport type bus franchising system, integrating different privately-run networks, might work. It is also looking at how it could set up new station partnerships to improve the area’s railway stations, including perhaps utilising the land around them.