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News Release


The North West now needs to fine-tune its image

David Lathwood, lead director at JLL, talks about ironing out the kinks

Manchester has once again beaten the rest of the UK and secured its position as the nation’s most ‘liveable’ city, while also entering the top 50 worldwide, according to the Economist.

This softer benchmark for Manchester’s growing reputation shouldn’t be overlooked. The city and broader region’s strong cultural heritage, range of quality restaurants and bars, as well as its world class education facilities, museums and galleries, all make the North West an attractive destination for people and by extension, employers.

Importantly these factors contribute to why the North West retains more graduates than any other English region outside London, both in terms of those originally from the area before they studied, and those who moved here for university.

Having this natural pool of talent has helped place the region on the map for international investment. This has paved the way for the strong property market we’ve had since the early 2000s and the large transactions, commercial lettings and global capital dripping in to the region from the more crowded market in London.

However, it’s not time to rest on our laurels. Despite the strong positive development of the region, one of its more obvious shortcomings is its infrastructure and this has the potential to interrupt its growth.

Unfortunately this isn’t the only top 10 list Manchester has made it onto in the past few weeks: it has also been named the nation’s second most gridlocked city and recent reports have shown that the average commuter spends a shocking six days a year in traffic. With predicted population growth in the next five years it’s easy to see the city should be doing more to prepare.

With the Government going back on its promise to electrify the network, it remains unfit for the level of movement in the region. The crowded, slow-moving trains travelling from towns in Lancashire and Cheshire to Manchester or Liverpool don’t match the calibre of the region or these cities as business destinations.

The concern is that the rate this is being improved is already lagging far behind the pace of its development. It’s inevitable that this gap between the two widening, in any city or region, causes people and businesses begin to look elsewhere.

If that wasn’t enough of an impetus, once greater ease of movement is addressed, we could start to see the spotlight that’s been placed on Manchester over the past few years begin to broaden to include surrounding towns. In addition, making the entire region work effectively as one unit will then lead to it becoming more competitive on a European level.

Money, businesses and people are coming to the region. If we don’t iron out the kinks now, the development tied to this influx can’t be supported and we set a much lower ceiling for the North West’s prosperity and cap this off before the momentum truly builds.