Manchester’s development market has shown remarkable resilience in the pandemic year, with 35 new schemes completed and 72 underway across the city, according to Deloitte Real Estate’s annual Manchester Crane Survey.

Now in its 22nd year, the Manchester Crane Survey tracks the level of development across central Manchester and Salford city centre.

With residential projects the main driver of activity, the city saw 4,914 new homes delivered to market in 2020, the highest number ever recorded in a single year, whilst an additional 12,322 units are under construction across 46 sites. 16 residential schemes broke ground in 2020, a 45 per cent increase in new starts compared to 2019. These include key schemes such as Greengate Park Tower, CityView, Crown Street, New Victoria, Viadux and Union by Vita, amongst many others.

Looking ahead, six major planning applications for residential development have been submitted within the survey area since the beginning of March 2020, comprising 2,831 potential new homes. 934 of these homes are already on site since securing approval, demonstrating that permissions for residential development are still being built-out at pace.

Simon Bedford, partner at Deloitte, said: “With construction rebounding from lockdown restrictions, development projects already underway or set to start have continued to drive forward despite the health crisis, and this is reflected in the high levels of delivery. Undoubtedly, there have been new challenges, but the long-term nature of construction appears to be working in the city’s favour, as developers continue to build back better, bringing forward new schemes and instilling optimism about the future.”

Joanne Roney OBE, Chief Executive at Manchester City Council, said: “Over the past decade Manchester has firmly established itself as a globally significant city, setting itself apart as a leading destination to work, live or visit. Its success has been reflected in the city skyline, with a diverse range of developments being brought forward to committee. The findings from this year’s report are highly encouraging and I look forward to taking stock of our position following conclusion of the pandemic.”

In the office sector, 1.2 million sq ft of space was delivered to market, with major schemes such as No.1 and No.2 Circle Square, 125 Deansgate and Landmark, all reaching completion in Manchester. These figures represent an increase of 179 per cent compared with 2019 and the highest levels seen since 2008. Three office schemes began construction in 2020, bringing the total under construction to 1.28 million sq ft.

Bedford added: “Ways of working saw a total overhaul this year, as the majority of UK workers began working from home to some degree. In early months of lockdown many wrongly predicted that this would lead to an abandonment of the office. As we enter the eleventh month of lockdown, it has become clear that many crave some form of return to the workplace, albeit with renewed priorities and preferences – this in itself will present a new challenge for developers in the region.”

Whilst Manchester’s retail, leisure and hotel businesses have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, the Crane Survey provided some optimism for the future, with 480,000 sq ft of retail floorspace currently on site across 18 schemes, well above the average volume since 2007.

In total, 784 hotel beds were completed in 2020 across four schemes and 2,397 hotel beds are under construction across ten sites. Despite these figures being above average, the number of schemes that started in 2020 was below the annual average of 2.5 schemes since 2007.

John Cooper, partner at Deloitte, said: “Manchester’s vibrant culture is a huge selling point for the city and will play a hugely important role in its economic recovery, providing a boost to businesses of all sizes. Confirmation that OVG are set to bring forward £350m of private investment into the city, that includes construction of a new 23,500 capacity indoor live entertainment arena, demonstrates confidence that the hospitality industry will recover. Not only will this allow the city to attract the highest profile sporting and cultural events, but it will deliver significant benefits to local communities through the creation of new jobs, training opportunities and community assets, helping to make that bounce back a reality.”


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