The Northern Powerhouse: Putting Manchester on the Map
Since the then-Chancellor George Osborne coined the phrase “Northern Powerhouse” in June 2014, the idea has become almost synonymous with Manchester. Despite the widespread debate about whether or not it can be termed the UK’s “second city”, there is no denying that Manchester has taken the bull by the horns when it comes to the devolution of power to areas beyond Greater London. But what does it all mean for the Manchester region?
Since the new year, it has come as a pleasant surprise to the North to hear that the Powerhouse plans will receive a £556 million boost, as announced by PM Theresa May. Even more excitingly, Greater Manchester is receiving the biggest slice of the cake: £130 million – close to twice the investment being given to the next-largest beneficiary, Liverpool (which, notably, is Manchester’s north-western neighbour, and will receive £72 million).
This decision reflects Manchester’s drive to be a key player in the Northern Powerhouse. The city jumped on the Government’s promise to devolve more power to northern areas by signing a devolution agreement back in 2014, which will see the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and a newly-elected Greater Manchester mayor (to be inaugurated this year) gradually taking control over many more aspects related to transport, housing, planning and the emergency services than ever before.
The decision to place so much focus on Manchester can be explained by recent developments in the local economy. The arrival of several large corporations in the area in recent times (one of the most significant being BBC North at MediaCity), along with the growth of various science and industry sectors, has led to predictions that 5000 new jobs will be created by 2020. Manchester’s commitment to northern growth has led to around £500 million investment in the area in the last few years.
As an estate agency, we at Julie Twist Properties, of course, have a vested interest in the housing aspect of devolution and the Northern Powerhouse. In our industry, we have seen an unprecedented rise in investment in Manchester of late, with both domestic and overseas investors snapping up property in all parts of the city. The ever-increasing demand for rental property in the region, with supply barely keeping up with demand, shows just why Manchester is so popular for investment – and this demand is a direct result of new job opportunities created by continually increasing economic input into the city, creating an influx of new residents.
Additionally, it is perhaps no surprise that the northern city with the largest airport has come to be considered the core of the drive to ramp up the North’s contribution to the national economy. After all, connectivity is essential to the success of business relationships.
Particularly in these post-Brexit-vote days, the UK needs to be more united than ever if it is to hold its own, economically speaking, on the world stage. The Northern Powerhouse Partnership (chaired by George Osborne) has recently released its first report, in which it notes that certain northern cities are closer, in geographical terms, than some parts of London are to one another. Manchester and the rest of the North will have to work together, then – and with London, rather than against it – as the country establishes new trade deals and business agreements with foreign lands.
But this is not about Manchester becoming a new London; it’s about the North West putting its stamp on the UK, bringing northern grit, determination and charm to the industrial and finance sectors, and beyond.
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