The Manchester City Council has approved the planning application for the 100-million-pound ($159.7 million) World Logistics Hub, a 1.4 million square-foot logistics park set for development in the free-enterprise zone near the Manchester Airport.
The 91.2-acre site is expected to include a mix of buildings ranging from 7,500 square feet to 200,000 square feet.
When complete, the new development will be linked with the airport’s existing World Freight Terminal, which houses five cargo handling companies, and 50 freight forwarding and logistics agents, according to a press release. The World Logistics Hub project will be a phased development over a 10-year period, said John Atkins,
Manchester Airport Group’s airport city director, and city-council approval was one of the last major hurdles before development.
“The outline planning approval is a major step forward for this project. It enables us to progress with infrastructure development on-site in 2013,” he told American Shipper
. “Ultimately, development activity will be driven by demand and market conditions; however, we have already experienced a good level of interest.”
Atkins won't release any specifics, but he said this interest is coming from major players in the industry.
"World Logistics Hub aims to attract new international businesses in the air freight and logistics sectors, providing high-quality logistics facilities linked to the existing airport freight area," he said. "The facility will also offer existing operators an opportunity to grow their current businesses to help meet an increased demand for cargo volume."
The hub will be designed to cut transit times, improve trade and make Manchester Airport’s supply chain more sustainable and efficient. Boosting export opportunities is also a major goal, but the plans also confront long-term air cargo growth that has been predicted for the area, Atkins said. He added that Manchester, which is the fourth busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the largest outside London, generates a significant amount of belly-hold cargo activity. Prior to the economic downturn, he said, the airport was handling 170,000 tons of cargo, a number he expects to hit once the recession settles out.
Plans for the hub are part of the airport’s all-encompassing 650-million-pound Airport City scheme, which is to deliver 5 million square feet — 1.5 million square feet of office space; 6,500 square feet of advanced manufacturing; 100,000 square feet of retail; and 2,400 hotel beds — in the next 10 to 15 years.
The overall goal, Atkins told American Shipper
, is to transform “a regional transport hub into an international business destination in its own right to compete with similar schemes that already exist in Europe at places like Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Copenhagen.” - Jon Ross