Manchester is the economic engine of the North West and the regional centre for finance, commerce, retail, culture and leisure. The economy has been growing at an average rate of just under 3% per annum for the past decade and is forecast to accelerate over the next decade. More than 140,000 people are currently employed within the city centre, a number which is projected to rise consistently over the next five years. The city is also a leading hub of the UK’s Northern Powerhouse agenda to promote growth and regeneration outside London and the South East.
Manchester’s economic growth has been driven by the rapid expansion of a number of sectors including commercial and professional services, science and research, culture and media, advanced manufacturing and information and communications technology (ICT). It is now one of the top European cities for business location.
It is also a centre of excellence for research and learning and boasts one of the largest student populations in Europe. It is home to several higher education institutions including the University of Manchester, the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), the Royal Northern College of Music, the Central Manchester University Hospitalsand the University Hospital of South Manchester. The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University alone have over 64,000 students between them – around 12.5% of the city’s population.
Manchester benefits from excellent transport links both nationally and internationally with Manchester Airport (the largest in England outside the south east) being the primary international gateway for the North of England.
The city has undergone a remarkable transformation since the mid 1990s. Widespread regeneration and thoughtful urban design have created a distinctive contemporary city centre with high-quality new buildings and landscaping. The redevelopment of the city and the rising popularity of city-centre living has resulted in the population rising since the turn of the century, after having fallen to its lowest level in over 100 years in 1999. The population of the city centre has trebled in the past decade to reach just under 25,000, with this figure increasing to 50,000 when the fringe areas are taken into account.
The private rented sector has increased significantly in recent years and now represents around 20% of housing. Household projections and demographic trends from the council suggest that future demand for flats is likely to be considerable. The combination of strong tenant demand and attractive yields make the city a popular location for residential investors. The strong projected economic growth and rising population imply strong future capital and rental growth prospects for residential property.