This month marks a year since I started working in property public affairs and nearly a year since Social Communications moved into its new head office in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. One of the first things that struck me, when we relocated to central Manchester, was the number of construction projects taking place around the city. The annual Deloitte Manchester Crane Survey shows a 60% increase in residential units under construction compared to last year, and that 20 new residential schemes have started in the last 12 months – of which six of these will exceed 25 storeys on completion.

This record pace of construction shows the high level of confidence that property developers have in city centre residential development – and this is currently matched by demand for PRS and other city centre living. All of which confirms Simon Bedford’s (partner at Deloitte Real Estate) belief that “Manchester has firmly established itself as one of Europe’s fastest growing cities.”

Completed in 2006 and at 47 storeys high, Deansgate’s Beetham Tower has long stood out as the exception on Manchester’s relatively low skyline. However, this will soon be changing. At present, four huge towers, home to 1,506 apartments, are being built on Owen Street, near Deansgate, and one of these towers will overlook Beetham Tower at 64 storeys.

Masterplan of the Great Jackson Street scheme by Deloitte and SimpsonHaugh

Proposals to redevelop Great Jackson Street were also agreed by Manchester Council’s executive in January this year, which will provide a major focus for new investment within the area and will extend the city centre’s southern boundary to Hulme, across the Mancunian Way. Part of the development work has already begun, forming an initial phase of the overall masterplan which includes more than 5,500 build-to-rent apartments across seven individual plots, with towers up to 50 storeys in height.

This surge in development is supported by Philip Hammond’s Autumn budget, which included ‘£8 billion of new financial guarantees to support private housebuilding and the purpose-built private rented sector.’ Alongside his support for the build-to-rent sector and the ever increasing unaffordability of homes for first-time-buyers, Manchester has taken a national lead in the delivery of large-scale rental developments.

What is apparent is that the pace of development in Manchester is outstripping the pre-2008 development bubble, and as a result, concerns are being raised by some about the long-term sustainability of the current property boom. Manchester must continue to grow its economy, create jobs, drive interest in the city from overseas investment, and build the social and physical infrastructure to support it all. The ambition of the city is once again there for all to see. And no one can doubt that this is a city that embraces hard work. So, whilst there will undoubtedly be challenges ahead, it will be fascinating to see first-hand how the city navigates through its next surge of property development.

Header photo by Stacey MacNaught