Belfast’s McKinney Group to create £60m outdoor surfing lagoon and wave pool in Manchester, creating over 100 jobs

Preparatory and construction works set to begin in summer 2022 ahead of full opening in early 2024

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 1:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th November 2021, 1:42 pm

The developer behind Belfast’s Forestside Shopping Centre is to create a new £60 million Wavegarden outdoor surf centre and wave pool near the Trafford Centre in Manchester, creating around 100 jobs once complete and many more during construction.

Established in 1885, the fourth-generation Belfast-based European property development specialist McKinney Group has become a major player in the development of successful large-scale out-of-town projects across Europe, Brazil and China, with a prestigious client list including Goldman Sachs, ING, Ikea, Sainsbury’s and SSE.

Plans for the giant 15-acre leisure complex, which will also boast a range of interactive attractions including a pump track, skate park, bouldering and traversing walls, restaurants and bars, have been approved by Trafford Council. With the design phase now under way, construction is expected to start next summer.

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Around 350,000 visitors a year are expected to visit the world class attraction, generating £18 million a year for the local economy

Around 350,000 visitors a year are expected to visit the world class attraction, generating £18 million a year for the local economy.

Using this ground-breaking technology powered by Wavegarden, a Spanish company which is the World leader in wave-generating technology, the facility will generate 1,000 waves an hour – suitable for surfers of all ages and abilities.

The Modern Surf Manchester scheme will bring to four the number of new Wavegarden facilties in the UK alongside Bristol, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

Developers McKinney Group and Manchester-based landowner Peel L&P Group – which owns the land – are behind the development.

Plans for the giant 15-acre leisure complex have been approved by Trafford Council

McKinney Group managing director, Billy McKinney, said: “Modern Surf Manchester is among our most exciting and ambitious place-making projects to date and we’re delighted to be working with Peel L&P to create a world class visitor attraction and sustainable development that will not only create a real economic impact and jobs but add to the city’s compelling recreational offer as a great place in which to live, visit and work.

“TraffordCity already has a huge and growing leisure offer and we are looking forward to bringing something new to the area that is thrilling, interactive and accessible to be enjoyed by surfers of all abilities.

“As a Northern Ireland leader in transformational project development, we’re continuing to expand our operations around the world, seizing and developing sustainable, transformational and innovation-led opportunities that generates real value, pushes boundaries and makes life better.”

The outdoor surf centre and wave pool in TraffordCity will also complement a planned new £250 million Therme Manchester wellness resort located nearby which is due to start construction in 2022.

TraffordCity, owned and managed by Peel L&P, is regarded as the UK’s foremost retail, leisure and commercial destination encompassing The Trafford Centre and its surrounding 3.5 million square feet of retail, leisure and office space and has a 44 million annual footfall.

James Whittaker, executive development director at Peel L&P, added: “We’re passionate about investing and developing TraffordCity for the local community and beyond to enjoy, so we’re pleased to be working in partnership with McKinney Group on the plans for Modern Surf.

“The facility will bring something unique to the already strong leisure offering in TraffordCity and, alongside Therme Manchester, Modern Surf will complement all the surrounding businesses whilst bringing immense economic and social benefits to the area.”

McKinney Group has been a major player in a variety of developments across the UK, Ireland and beyond, including, more recently the development of €60m Factory Outlet in Cork as part of a joint venture with London’s Rioja Estates and the creation of Europe’s largest fashion retail outlets – Freeport Lisboa – in Portugal.

The developer was also behind the creation of Belfast’s Forestside Shopping Centre which opened in 1997.

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