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Chinese investors have thrown their weight behind plans for Britain’s first Airport City, creating 16,000 new jobs in Manchester.
The deal with the Beijing Construction Engineering Group, was announced by George Osborne during a visit to China,
Outline planning permission was granted for the project at the beginning of the year.
It will see Manchester compete alongside other European “Airport Cities” in Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Barcelona.
The scheme will take up to 15 years to complete.
Under the blueprint an International Business Hub will be located on the north side of the Airport City featuring not only offices and a hotel but also a retail centre.
This, the airport argues, could create 8,000 jobs of which 5,000 would be “higher level” posts.
A new logistics hub on the south will include manufacturing, warehouses and will be placed next to the airport’s existing cargo centre at junction 6 of the M56.
This will create employment opportunities for another 1,500 people with the remainder of the jobs coming from the construction of the Airport City itself.
Manchester Airport Group believes the project will inevitably lead to more flights to the airport itself. However a spokesman for the airport said there were no plans “as yet” to add terminals or runways to Manchester,
It will be the one of the biggest regeneration schemes in Britain since the development of the Olympic Park in east London.
The involvement of the Chinese reflects the increasing importance of the country as a major trading partner with Britain.
George Osborne’s visit to Beijing comes a year after the British and Chinese governments set a target of growing bilateral trade to $100 billion (£62.68 billion) a year by 2015.
The Airport City deal represents one of the largest joint venture investments into Britain.
“To be part of a project of this size and scale, working alongside other such highly regarded organisations, will be an exciting, challenging and rewarding opportunity, which we look forward to beginning,” said Xing Yan, Managing Director of BCEG.
“We see our involvement in Airport City as an extension of the memorandum of understanding between China and the UK, where we have been looking to further explore joint infrastructure opportunities for some time.”
Meanwhile the involvement of Geoff Muirhead, the former chief executive of the Manchester Airports Group – which now owns Stansted – in the Davies Commission has triggered a legal challenge.
Stop Stansted Expansion has asked the High Court to overturn the “sift criteria” which is being used to draw up a shortlist for sites for a new runway in the south east.
Even though Mr Muirhead was no longer chief executive of the Manchester Airports Group when he joined the Commission and has since stepped down as a Commissioner, Stop Stansted Expansion says the criteria were drawn up while he was still a member.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport defended Mr Muirhead.
“As we said at the time of Mr Muirhead’s departure, both the Department and Sir Howard agree that there is no evidence whatsoever of bias and the Airports Commission is content that decisions taken to date are robust.”