The rise of the Northern Powerhouse

Over the past few years Manchester has firmly established itself as one of the UK’s most dynamic cites for investment, boasting increasing office take-up and benefiting from rising house prices. Here are some of the key reasons why Manchester is proving attractive to home-grown and overseas investment.


Manchester has long been regarded as an affordable city to live in. Property prices have only just returned to their pre-global financial crisis (GFC) levels with growth over the past three years in the residential sector touching 30 per cent. As a destination for national and international businesses, Manchester offers advantages over London in terms of both staff and property costs, with peak commercial rents at roughly £35 per square foot compared with an average of £125 per square foot in London.


Manchester offers a world-class network of higher education colleges, including four universities. The University of Manchester is one of 11 UK universities recognised in the top 100 globally, with the city itself enjoying a 51.5 per cent graduate retention rate.*

Infrastructure investment

Manchester is set to undergo an infrastructure renaissance with £1 billion being spent on improving and enlarging Manchester airport, which is already the UK’s second busiest airport for long-haul travel. High Speed rail will also be delivered to Manchester, with the UK Government committing to HS2 from Manchester to London. These significant investments are part of wider plans that promise to connect the great cities of the North of England in a way not achieved before.

Supply vs demand

Manchester has suffered from a systemic under supply of new housing, with council targets for new-build completions only met in two out of the last 15 years just prior to the GFC. The council targets just over 10,000 new units a year, but the market is currently delivering short of 5,000 units. When viewed against the growth in population, which saw 10,000 people move to the city between 2014 and 2015, this figure becomes acute.

Entertainment and culture

Manchester has something for everyone, from global retail brands like Selfridges and Harvey Nichols to world-class restaurants such as the soon-to-open Ivy. The city is also famous the world over for sport, in particular football and Manchester United. The Middle-Eastern owners of cross-city rivals Manchester City have recently contributed much to the fabric of Manchester with significant investment not only in the football team but in wider Manchester projects such as Airport City and Manchester Life.

Hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2002 brought with it numerous new sporting facilities and a legacy from these games is that Manchester is now the national home to sports like cycling, basketball and squash.

A global approach to business and investment has been at the heart of Manchester strategy for over a decade and it's certainly paying off. The city enjoys the highest levels of FDI outside London, with new entrants from around the globe looking to invest. The Manchester economy is the second largest in the UK by GVA and this looks set to continue.

*HESA Leavers Survey 14/15

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