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How new high-rise apartments are transforming Manchester

As demand for city centre living grows in Manchester, apartment buildings are getting taller and giving residents top-class amenities

April 24, 2019

Manchester’s city centre is in the midst of an urban living renaissance. 

Growing numbers of high-end apartment towers are rising in and around the city centre as more people opt to live closer to where they work and socialise.

Reflecting a global move back to downtown living, Manchester’s city centre population soared from  14,300 in 2002 to 35,600 in 2015 – and has increased further since – while jobs in the area have jumped 84 percent between 1998 and 2015, according to Centre for Cities. As demand intensifies for high-quality spaces in central locations, developers are building ever higher and dramatically altering Manchester’s cityscape.

Louise Emmott, JLL UK’s Head of Residential Agency and Development in the North West says: “There’s strong competition for development land in the inner city, so building upwards makes sense.

“Over the next five years Manchester’s skyline is going to change dramatically as we see the development of taller buildings,” Emmott adds.

Deansgate Square, one of the current skyscraper clusters currently under construction, will include a 65-storey tower soaring 201 metres into the sky. Amenities will include a sports hall, swimming pool, 24-hour concierge, rooftop gardens, business centre and even a library with a bird’s eye view of Manchester.

Redevelopments, meanwhile, will also have an impact on the cityscape. Plans to transform the iconic old Boddingtons brewery site into new high-rise homes have recently been approved.

“People want to live in high-spec apartments with amenities that can rival those offered by luxury hotels such as concierges and fitness studios. It’s about creating communities of like-minded people and providing a certain type of lifestyle,” says Emmott. It’s not just about you in your apartment, you are creating a village where you can connect with friends and enjoy all that urban living offers.”

The modern urban experience

It’s not only young professionals who are keen to rent or buy city centre apartments. A growing number of single person households and retirees downsizing and moving back from the suburbs are also fuelling demand. One new development on Great Jackson Street, for example, that received permission in 2018, will include retirement units.

As more people join these urban communities, it helps to create a buzz that in turn attracts retailers, restauranteurs and entrepreneurs to provide services that cater for their needs, whether street food stalls, spas or nightlife venues.

In Manchester, it’s a case of adding to its existing appeal, says Emmott. Indeed, the city’s bar and restaurant scene is growing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the country, according to food and drink analytics company CGA.

“Manchester has a global reputation because of its football teams, its music and its position as a great place to shop, go to the theatre or visit restaurants and bars,” says Emmott. “It has a large student population and you tend to find these students have a great time living here and they then want to stay, get a job and enjoy city centre living.”

Well-paid jobs with big employers or ambitious tech start-ups help to fuel demand for high-end apartments being built. Employers like the BBC and Amazon are part of a burgeoning tech and creative sector keen to make the most of the talent pipeline from the city’s world-class universities. 

City-wide transformation

Manchester’s changing skyline is part of the wider ongoing transformation of the city.

Redevelopment work is helping to meet the needs of locals, attract visitors – and poach talent from cities like London - and give the city a fresh, vibrant edge. The £110 million Factory, on the old Granada Studios site, for example, will offer world-class space for the arts and creative talent and the arrival of iconic brands like The Ivy restaurant, add to the city’s appeal.

A new £200 million skyscraper at Jackson’s Row will add another 5* hotel to the mix while an £18 million ‘Tower of Light’ to power nearby buildings will be a new landmark for the city when it lights up at night. 

The city’s airport is currently undergoing a £1 billion transformation. However, business and civic leaders still want to see connectivity between Northern cities improved to ensure further growth, and have unveiled a £39 billion rail blueprint.

While Manchester is ticking many of the boxes for modern urban living, it’s an ongoing challenge to stay ahead of the curve. “Manchester must continue to evolve and ensure it refreshes the range of amenities and lifestyle it’s renowned for,” says Emmott.

“As demand for space intensifies, developers will build taller to get the density in schemes they are looking for. As a result, creating sustainable communities through placemaking and ensuring schemes blend into the local area will become increasingly important,” she adds.

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