The Congestion Charge Business Effect

Table of contents for Manchester Congestion Charging - Reprinted from Good Company

  1. The Congestion Charge Business Effect
  2. The New Gold Rush – In Manchester
  3. Manchester’s Congestion Charge Effect

Progress Lighting the Way for Commerce in ManchesterThe London Chamber of Commerce published its third Retail Survey on the Impact of Congestion Charging in January 2005 to give a view of how business was affected.

Two previous surveys found:

  • 79% of central London’s retailers experienced a drop in takings
  • 56% a reduction in customers
  • 42% thought congestion charging should take all, or most of the blame
  • 74.5% of restaurants responding reported a fall in takings
  • Same restaurants noted a 78.3% fall in customer numbers since the change was introduced
  • 54% of those restaurants attributed both drops to the congestion charge

In the short term Manchester’s bustling restaurant trade is unlikely to be affected as it’s perfectly possible to go into Manchester anytime after the 9:30am charging period and have lunch, or dinner ensuring you leave before or after the evening charging period.

Similarly the retail side is unlikely to be affected in the short-term.

The Road Haulage Association suggested that lorries be excluded from the scheme, due to cost and more red tape. The London congestion scheme includes lorries and it seems likely that Manchester will do the same. So any goods going into the city centre need to be there before the charging period begins or after it ends.

Manchester’s Satellite Towns Business Opportunity

The biggest impact will be on Manchester city centre employees who need to travel in or out during one, or more, of the charging periods.

Say on average someone works 45 weeks per year and they have to commute in and out across both rings during rush hour. That costs them £1,125 per year.

Unless employees are compensated for having to pay the charge they’re likely to be looking for jobs where they only cross the Outer ring or don’t cross either ring to get to work.

The net result is an outflow of good employees to jobs outside the charging area. That gives businesses in the North of Manchester an opportunity to get hold of some good and well-trained staff.

Forward thinking businesses based in the centre who recognise the likely outflow can make themselves more attractive to employees by either footing their congestion charging bill, or creating other offices outside the charging boundary.

Towns close to Manchester can build, or extend, business parks to capitalise on this outflow of employees.

Property Price Rises Likely

The cost of property inside the rings is likely to rise as it becomes more attractive to live there if your work means you must commute into Manchester. Even those who currently live in the South could easily use the M60 to get to new offices off the M60 in the North.

The New Greater Manchester Gold Rush

An exodus of businesses from the city centre will bring more competition for office and warehouse space in the towns outside the M60 ring. Which means Gold Digging Spademore office and warehouse building along the M60. Builders, estate agents, lenders, solicitors and investors have the ability to grab some nuggets for development, re-development or simply as investment.

Both private and commercial property developers are going to benefit from these increases in price if they are astute enough to buy property near the predicted hotspots.

Businesses that are currently in place in the satellite towns with locked in deals for their mortgage or rent and rates are sitting pretty in such a scenario and will be able to more easily compete on price with their city centre counterparts and in fact even increase their prices as their city competitors are almost bound to as the pressure on employee wages increases.

It seems unlikely that more private homes need to be built to cater for the businesses moving to outside the outer ring. However, homes near to convenient Metrolink stops and good bus routes are going to increase in value.

More money coming into the area attracts services such as restaurants, shops, hotels and leisure facilities.

Astute businesses have the opportunity to get the gold from this apparent problem. Are you one of them?

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About Jim Symcox

Manchester is great. At Manchester University I take part in Gilbert & Sullivan productions each year. I'm a Manchester-based business growth coach and marketing evangelist and like to help companies grow more profitable, more quickly.
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