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Manchester council picks Chinese firm for 1 bln pounds residential project

By Angus McNeice in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-04-28 23:22

Manchester City Council selected Far East Consortium (FEC) as lead contractor on one of the largest residential development projects ever undertaken in the city, involving 10,000 new homes and 1 billion pounds ($1.29 billion) in investment.

Over a 10 to 15 year period, the "Northern Gateway" development project will involve the construction of new homes, cycle routes, walking trails and green spaces across 300 acres (1.2 million square meters) of land across the Manchester neighborhoods of New Cross, Lower Irk Valley and Collyhurst. The project is expected to involve 1 billion pounds of investment over the next decade.

David Chiu, chairman of FEC, said: "Manchester is the third-most visited city in the UK and is famed for its architecture, culture, musical exports and media links along with an impressive heritage of scientific and engineering innovations. I myself have been in the city many times and am of the belief this project is a top priority for FEC in the UK."

Northern Gateway forms part of a residential growth strategy led by Manchester Place, a joint initiative between Manchester City Council and the UK Government's Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). Manchester Place aims to deliver 25,000 new homes in Manchester over the next 10 years. FEC has previously been selected to develop tower blocks under the scheme.

In March, FEC unveiled plans for a 200 million pound ($247.4 million) residential development bordering Manchester's Angel Meadow Park. FEC will erect four buildings - one with nine floors, a 17-floor block, a 22-level tower and one with 41 floors. Together, they will comprise 754 new homes, the first of which are due to be finished in 2019.

Chiu said that Manchester City Council market data shows the demand for new homes in Manchester city centre will continue to exceed supply.

"Manchester is a place where people from all walks of life want to stay and where families thrive," he said. "That is why for us this project is not only exciting but also presents unique challenges that will require a leading developer with a strong balance sheet as well as solid experience in land assembly, planning and development."

FEC was founded in 1972 by David Chiu's father, Hong Kong entrepreneur Deacon Chiu. David Chiu's daughter Winnie Chiu heads hotel operator Dorsett Hospitality International, an FEC subsidiary. The family operates under the so-called "Chinese wallet" strategy, in which developers acquire hotels and real estate in areas that attract large numbers of Chinese tourists and residents. FEC has property in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, the UK and New Zealand.

Manchester has the third-largest proportion of Chinese residents in the UK, behind Cambridge and London's Tower Hamlets neighborhood, according to the 2011 census.

Sixty-four thousand Chinese tourists visited the north of England in 2015, up from 35,000 in 2014. Direct flights between Beijing and Manchester began last year.

To contact the reporter: angus@mail.chinadailyuk.com.cn

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