Manchester plans £1.7bn city centre innovation district

A strategic regeneration framework (SRF) for the University of Manchester’s former North Campus has been put forward to Manchester City Council outlining a new £1.7 billion city centre district called ID Manchester.

The new plan has been unveiled by joint venture (JV) partners Bruntwood SciTech and The University of Manchester.

The university said that in a prime central location next to Piccadilly Railway Station, ID Manchester “will benefit from its unique position adjacent to the university’s research facilities, the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre and the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology.”

It said ID Manchester will also benefit from being within the innovation ecosystem clustered around the Oxford Road Corridor, including Circle Square, Citylabs and Manchester Science Park – all of which are part of the Bruntwood SciTech network.

“The framework sets out a vision for ID Manchester to be recognised internationally as one of the world’s leading applied innovation districts providing unique access to disruptive technologies and ideas,” said the university.

“Its core specialisms will be centred around advanced materials, health innovation, digital technology and biotech.

“The completed development is set to create over 10,000 new jobs and deliver education, apprenticeship and training opportunities for local communities.

“The illustrative masterplan totals over 4 million sq ft, with the potential to accommodate over 2 million sq ft of commercial and retail space, and over 1,500 homes.

“It will breathe new life into key heritage assets on-site, such as the Sackville Street and Renold buildings and Vimto Park, and adopt a ‘living landscape’ approach to the district’s nine acres of public realm, enhancing existing green spaces, reconnecting communities with nature and improving urban biodiversity by at least 10%.

“Once complete, ID Manchester will bring significant economic, social and environmental benefits to the city, and contribute circa £900m GVA annually.”

ID Manchester director Lou Cordwell said: “Over the next 15 years, we have the opportunity to design a whole new district of the city that will establish Manchester as a global leader for applied innovation and drive new skills, ideas and economic growth in both Manchester and the UK.

“ID Manchester marks a step change in the UK’s ambition to be a world leader in science and tech, not only supporting the UK’s Innovation Strategy, but also creating the exemplar for inclusive innovation – our values of sustainable growth, inclusivity and positive social impact will be at the heart of ID Manchester.

“We’re excited to share our plans with the public and welcome their feedback on how ID Manchester can benefit Greater Manchester communities.”

John Holden, Associate Vice-President for Major Special Projects, University of Manchester, said: “ID Manchester is an exciting opportunity for new ideas and research to be commercialised and scaled up in Manchester, centred on the Oxford Road Corridor, and to create thousands of high-quality jobs in future-facing industries.

“As one of the world’s leading innovation districts, it will have an emphasis on driving inclusive innovation that works for people and the planet.

“This is a critical mission for the university, which is ranked first in the UK, first in Europe, and second in the world in the 2023 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, based on our performance against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“ID Manchester will bring huge economic benefit to the city and make a major contribution to Greater Manchester and the national government’s ambitions to use R&D and innovation as an enabler for job creation and levelling up in the UK.”

Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester is known across the world for its industrious history, but Manchester’s economy has been transformed over the last two decades as one of the fastest growing in Europe. A growing economy, with people at its heart.

“The Oxford Road corridor and its environs has been central to Manchester’s innovative spirit for generations – a globally recognised hub for education, innovation and research.

“The ethos behind ID Manchester continues that tradition, creating opportunities for the city’s emerging specialist sectors in health, advanced materials and biotech to develop and grow.

“We welcome this level of ambition to diversify and grow our economy – while creating thousands of new jobs alongside pathways to learning and apprenticeships for Manchester people to realise their potential, sharing in the success of the city.”