ID Manchester will occupy a 26 acre plot adjacent to Piccadilly Station

When Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese was asked 'what is the most exciting development this year?' at the opening night of MIPIM, he was unequivocal in his answer:

The University of Manchester's new £1.5bn Innovation District.

"It's the biggest site that has become available in the city centre in a long time," he said. The site is indeed colossal; 26 acres, and slap-bang in the city’s core, between Piccadilly Station and Mancunian Way.

The aim is, in part, to get the city’s research onto the factory floors of Manchester

The ambitious mixed-use development site, masterplanned by Sheppard Robson, is located on the University of Manchester’s northern campus, as the focus shifts from their recent activities on the Oxford Road corridor to their old UMIST site. 

According to the University, ID Manchester will be a 'dynamic, world-class community with innovation, collaboration and enterprise at its heart, with the potential to create over 6000 new jobs'. 

The aim is, in part, to get the city’s research onto the factory floors of Manchester. The proposals will provide facilities for the industries present in Manchester while playing to the University's strengths in the fields of advanced materials (such as graphene) and the health sciences. 

Id Manchester Brochure
Concept sketch from the ID Manchester brochure at MIPIM

The University is present at MIPIM - the global property convention in Cannes - in order to find an international developer with the experience to deliver such a grand project.

Naturally the mix will include residential and will provide a new living district at the back of Piccadilly Station, which will dramatically improve what has become a relatively rundown part of town.

Sackville Street Building
The 26 acre site boasts the grade II listed Sackville Street Building

We should remember that the University’s reputation around the world makes this a development of international significance. The university boasts 40,000 students (around 14,000 of which are international students), 25 Nobel Prize winners and strategic partnerships with firms such as GlaxoSmithKline and AstoZeneca. 

The President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, said: “We are looking for the very best joint-venture partner to work with us to develop this prime site in the heart of the city which will generate thousands of new jobs and will enhance the reputation of the University and the city as the place where the world’s most valuable ideas are transformed into reality."  

The announcement comes at an important time for the city region as it tries to break away from the ‘long tail’ of low skilled employment for those on low wages. The recent Greater Manchester Prosperity Review cited the industries that are likely to occupy the development as key to the city region’s future success and for transforming the Manchester economy.

Eamon Boylan, the CEO of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said “the proposals represent possibly the most exciting development opportunity anywhere in the UK.”

ID Manchester has set the bar early for MIPIM, not only this week, but for years to come.

John Blundell is our man at MIPIM, a Labour councillor for Smallbridge and Firgrove, and the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Business, Skills & Employment on Rochdale Council. He is a graduate of Economics from the University of Manchester and was elected to Rochdale Council at just 20 years old.