Car parks: The answer to Manchester’s housing needs?

Could redeveloping a number of car parks help add much-needed housing stock to the market in Manchester?

That’s the intriguing prospect being raised by Euan Kellie Property Solutions in a new piece of research from the Cheadle Hulme-based consultants.

It marks a decade since a previous Euan Kellie (EKPS) report identified potential sites for development within central Manchester – an area roughly bounded by the Mancunian Way in the south and the Manchester Arena/Co-Op building to the north.  It found that 83 of these sites were car parks, and now the intervening years have seen quite a change with 19 of them either currently being developed or already completed.

Most of these 19 developments have been residential-led, although two now have multi-storey car parks on sites previously occupied by open-air versions at surface level. Along with other areas subsequently turned into car parks, there are 59 such sites in central Manchester.

EKPS calculate that, if a surface level car park occupies an average 0.5 of an acre, there are around 30 acres occupied by such sites dotted around the city centre.

“Whilst few people will be surprised to learn that the dramatic transformation of the city centre skyline over the past decade has involved the redevelopment of many surface car parks, we were taken aback by land covering what we estimate to be potentially more than 30 acres currently being used for surface car parking that remains available for potential redevelopment,” said EKPS co-founder and director Euan Kellie quoted in Place North West.

Euan Kellie Manchester map

“The majority of the schemes on surface car parking sites are and will continue to be residential-led, driven by the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework target to increase the city centre population to 50,000 by 2037.

“But a number of major commercial schemes have also taken land previously used for car parking, reflecting the ongoing need to accommodate this rising number of city dwellers and workers with an increasing number of employment opportunities.”

The need for more housing tallies with a bright economic outlook for the city. The recent Annual Economic Forecast from EY predicted that employment in Manchester will grow at 1.2% between 2018 and 2021, the best rate of all areas surveyed. The city’s strong performance is reflected by a gross value added (GVA) of 2.2%, second only in the survey to Reading.

Bright prospects for the city

It’s a city with a youthful aspect, with a population that has grown by 6% in three years and over two-thirds of graduates opting to stay in Manchester after leaving university. High-spec accommodation located in central areas is highly desirable to young professionals and converting car park sites could meet that need.

Last year also saw record-breaking take-up of office space in the city centre, although it could be argued that some of the workers coming into the city will need somewhere to park. But Manchester’s long-term prospects look good, with recent data from Cushman & Wakefield showing that house prices are expected to rise by 57% by the end of 2028 – the highest among all of the top UK cities.

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