Three big property developments in the north of England – together worth nearly $1.8bn (£1.2bn) – will be unlocked by a cash infusion from China, it was announced today as UK chancellor George Osborne toured China’s far-western Xinjiang autonomous region.
China’s Hualing Industry and Trade Group will inject an undisclosed sum to support major projects in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield initiated by UK property company, Scarborough Group.
Hualing made the announcement as the UK chancellor visited its offices in Xinjiang as part of his tour to boost China-UK trade.
With a combined gross value of nearly $1.8bn, the three projects are expected to create 18,000 jobs and deliver 10,000 new homes.
The projects are:
- Middlewood Locks (pictured), a $1.1bn residential project in Manchester incorporating a total of 2,000 residential units and around 750,000 square feet of commercial accommodation;
- Thorpe Park, a $610m mixed-use project in Leeds; and
- Sheffield Digital Campus, a $61m commercial and office development which will build 130,000 square feet of office space in the city.
Scarborough Group chairman Kevin McCabe said his company had done business in China for 13 years, but that the tie-up with Hualing was new.
"As a family business with its roots in the North of England, we are now very proud to bring our partners in China to the UK to invest in our great Northern Cities and to accelerate the development of our major projects in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield," he said.
"Our partnership with the Hualing Group is a new and exciting one for Scarborough and we look forward to working with them over the coming years to bring our Northern projects to fruition."
Today George Osborne became the first serving British government minister to visit Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang autonomous region.
He used the visit to say he wanted to make China the UK’s second largest trading partner by 2025 as part of the government’s efforts to increase UK exports to £1 trillion a year and to get 100,000 more UK companies exporting.
China is currently the UK’s sixth largest trading partner, with British exports to the China totalling $38bn (£25bn) in 2013. The top recipient of British exports is the US, to which the UK exported just over $138bn (£90bn) worth of goods and services in 2013, according to official statistics.
Photograph: A 2006 aerial masterplan render of one of the schemes, Middlewood Locks in Manchester, by Cowdy Urban Design