‘Desirable’ Manchester the beating heart of UK’s construction boom after continued Chinese infusion

Construction output in the North West is expanding 10 times faster than anywhere else nationally.

The notion of a Northern Powerhouse was established to generate this new wave of construction and investment growth.

The total spent on construction between the first and second quarters of this year represented the largest quarterly growth since records were first made in 1980.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) report on the output in the construction industry for England, Scotland and Wales showed that the construction output in the North West increased by 15% to £4.6billion in the three months up to August 2018.

Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry MP, said: “It’s wonderful to see how the Northern Powerhouse is driving investment in the North West and helping grow the construction industry to the tune of over £600million.

“Anyone visiting the North West can see the huge number of construction projects underway and these figures show just how valuable they are.

“This construction boom is helping build new homes, new infrastructure and a stronger economy in the region.”

The driving force behind this growth is Manchester’s burgeoning appeal locally, nationally and internationally.

Manchester has become a de facto capital city for the Northern Powerhouse and vacuumed up the investment traditionally reserved for London.

This investment is needed to manage the exponential population growth that will see the population rise from 572,000 in 2018 to a predicted 644,100 by 2025, making Manchester one of the fastest growing cities in Europe.

The national and international in-migration is reflected by the ONS report as private housing is the fastest-growing sector of the construction industry in the North West.

In response to the State of the City report, Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said: “Manchester remains one of the UK’s top cities to live in and we can see this in action as more people choose the city as their home.”


One of the instigators of rapid construction growth in Manchester has been the influx of Chinese investors given that their investment involvement is valued at over £3billion.

18.9% of Chinese investors intended to reside in their investments compared to 52.7% in London, which indicates how China is seeing Manchester as a goldmine to invest in and reap the benefits 5000 miles away.

This is as a result of investors being liberated by Manchester Airport’s new links with China.

The first Manchester-Beijing direct flight was launched in June 2016 by Hainan Airlines and has helped instigate a 38% increase in Chinese visitor numbers to Manchester.

The growth of the airport is a literal and metaphorical example of Chinese investment.

The introduction of direct flights to China has helped to more than double the airport’s share of UK exports to China to 11.5%, while the Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG) has also contributed 20% of investment into the construction of Airport City – the airport expansion scheme.

The Manchester-China Forum’s project manager Rebecca Drakeford agrees and told Mancunian Matters: “From our perspective one of the things that makes Manchester such a strong candidate for Chinese investment is due to the direct airport.

“When you make it easier to travel from one location to another you awaken a desire for people to experience what Manchester has to offer.

“These flows of people, goods, services and knowledge can combine to create culturally rich, productive and sustainable economies.”

She added: “Greater Manchester has a culture and long history of demonstrating an innovative and forward-thinking approach to economic development and international engagement.”

She really praises Manchester’s self-promotion and the Mancunian spirit of tolerance and openness as a key to attracting investment.

In 2013, then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne established the Manchester-China Forum to promote the relationship between the two and ensure its growth.

Main picture: Chinese contractor China Zhejiang Construction Group Hong Kong (CZCGHK) are among three contractors chosen for the £200 million project Meadowside development 

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