Fifteen years on from the Commonwealth games and two years on from the opening of Manchester City’s Etihad Campus, East Manchester is set to benefit from another huge development.
Manchester City Council and Manchester Metropolitan University are in talks to create a world-class sports campus fit for 3,000 undergraduates next to the Etihad Stadium.
The new university would take advantage of the nearby athletics, tennis and squash centres as well as the facilities on offer at Manchester City, and the Council sees it as the lynchpin for the next regeneration boom in the city.
Universities are ‘anchor institutions’ which, when built, will provide enormous benefits to the surrounding areas. Injecting thousands of undergraduates and highly trained people into an area is perhaps the quickest way to encourage the growth of the local economy in every sector from housing and retail to leisure and recreation. In other words, a university provides direct economic benefits as well as improving the skills of an entire area’s workforce.
The currently vacant land next to the Etihad Stadium is absolutely perfect for a masterplan development like this. Not only does it lay close to the city centre and relevant world class facilities, the local area is one of the poorest in Europe and is crying out for a new lease of life.
The Council’s draft masterplan for the development will go before the planners in the near future and hopes to convince the authorities of both the social and the business case for the development. It is not unreasonable to expect hundreds of millions of pounds of benefit for the local area to be the result of this, if it is approved.
As a city, Manchester is expanding rapidly. Whilst this university development will, and should, grab headlines, it is important to remember that the city as a whole is seeing something quite special happening.
The Metrolink tram system is currently being expanded ever-further outwards, and Manchester Airport is getting £1bn pumped into it which will buttress its position as the UK’s most important airport outside of London.
The Government’s Northern Powerhouse project is centred on Manchester and much of the incoming £556m of investment will end up in the city. It is already the de facto second city, and has even been the subject of speculative articles from outlets such as The Economist suggesting that the Government could move there when the Houses of Parliament are refurbished.
Manchester defined an age when it kicked off the Industrial Revolution, and it may be about to define another as the UK’s economy is rebalanced away from London. The city is an exciting place to be at present and people from around the world are sitting up and taking notice.
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