Willmott Dixon also building £60m laboratory scheme in the city

Sheppard Robson has unveiled plans for a £1bn advanced manufacturing and life sciences campus next to Manchester Airport.

The firm has spent the last two years drawing up a revised masterplan for the two million sq ft Mix Manchester scheme, a rebrand of a former plan for the site called Airport City Manchester which was first announced 12 years ago.

Developers Columbia Threadneedle Real Estate, Manchester Airports Group, Beijing Construction Engineering Group International and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund had proposed five million sq ft of offices on the site.

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Aerial view of the revised masterplan for the former Airport City Manchester site

But the joint venture partners have now turned towards life sciences and manufacturing following the sale of half of the original development zone to TPG Real Estate and Stoford Developments in 2017.

A revised strategic regeneration framework for the remaining 50 acres of the site will go to public consultation this summer before the developers seek official endorsement from Manchester council.

Manchester Airports Group property director Gareth Jackson said: “In recent years, we have seen occupier demand move away from traditional out-of-town offices. 

“This trend, coupled with rapid growth in the advanced manufacturing, life sciences, digital and technology economies and the requirement for highly sustainable work environments has led us to adapt our plans for the next phase of commercial development.”

Samantha Hadland at Columbia Threadneedle Real Estate added: “Being situated next to an international airport which links 28m passengers a year, Mix Manchester opens a global opportunity for science and innovation businesses wanting to locate in the North West, in particular the burgeoning advanced manufacturing sector. 

“With world-class universities and research institutions on the doorstep with immediate access to secure, global logistics connections through Manchester Airport’s World Freight Terminal, occupiers will have access to an incredible talent pool and unrivalled global connectivity.”

Manchester council leader Bev Craig said the scheme would “cement Manchester’s place as a leader in innovation on a global scale”.

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CGI of the Greenheys building which is being built by Willmott Dixon

The project team so far also includes JLL and Track Real Estates as agents and CBRE as planning consultant.

Mix Manchester would further boost the city’s booming life sciences and tech sectors, which are set to include Bruntwood SciTech and the University of Manchester’s £1.7bn ID Manchester and the £450m Upper Brook Street masterplan Property Alliance Group, Moda, McLaren Property Group, and Kadans.

Willmott Dixon also announced this morning that it has won the job to build the £60m Greenheys development at Manchester Science Park for Bruntwood SciTech, a joint venture between Bruntwood, Legal & General and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund.

Construction has already started on the scheme, which is scheduled for completion in 2026 and will contain 131,000 sq ft of laboratory and office space across six floors.

Occupiers will include health data and research firm UK Biobank, which will take three floors of the building for its new headquarters.