Leaving a lasting legacy at MAN-TP

Kelly Player Social Sustainability Advisor
6 min read
With evidence of social value playing an increasingly important role in our project delivery, we take a look at the lasting legacy left in Manchester following the conclusion of the Manchester Airport Transformation Programme.

In the south of Manchester sits the UK’s third busiest airport, catering – in normal times - to 30 million passengers a year from the North West and beyond.

In 2015 Manchester Airports Group (MAG) announced it would be investing £1bn into Manchester Airport, its largest investment to date. The Manchester Airport Transformation Programme formed the first phase of this investment, which included the extension of Terminal 2, forecourt, baggage sortation hall, along with the construction of Pier 1 and link bridge, 8-storey car park, and Pier 2 stub with a temporary bussing lounge. Laing O’Rourke was named as main contractor in 2017 and our team began work in August that same year.

Alongside a complex construction programme, which was split into six packages of works, ran a strategic sustainability plan which would allow us to support the local economy and communities surrounding the airport. This plan was managed by our specialist sustainability team who were based on site and worked directly with MAG to create a lasting legacy in Greater Manchester.

Tuning into local expertise

Manchester Airport’s location meant that the project team was able to utilise the experience of employees and suppliers within a 35-mile radius, reaching the outskirts of Greater Manchester. 73% of the employees on the project were from the local area, and 83% of the project’s overall spend was with local suppliers. 44 of these suppliers were secured from a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event held in collaboration with the procurement team.

Collaborating with MAG was key to delivering certainty for local people and so the sustainability team partnered with the client to deliver four pre-employment placements through the ‘Airport Academy’. These placements were allocated to unemployed local residents over a two-week period.

The projects also saw a company first - ‘Legacy Agreements’. These agreements outlined high-level commitments to social value from the supply chain. Driven through a collaboration of the sustainability and procurement teams, these agreements have now been rolled out on other Laing O’Rourke projects across the UK.

Engaging with our future workforce

Engaging with and reaching out to local young people was a key objective for both us and MAG, so educational outreach played a big part in our sustainability plan.

The team focussed on long-term partnerships with key associates and educational establishments across Greater Manchester, as a result engaging with 8,450 students of all ages from across from the region. Included in this, we delivered 696 hours of specialist STEM and career-based activities, introducing students to the built environment.

Similar to construction, there is a focus on digital within aviation. That opened up collaboration opportunities between MAG and the project team when it came to inspiring the next generation. We facilitated STEM and technology masterclasses with 300 students, showcasing how STEM and technology play a key part in day-to-day construction.

Alongside these education outreach activities, MANTP also invested in local talent, providing 150 apprenticeships over 35 different construction roles, engaging with local career workshops and forums, and running supply chain workshops.

The project’s dedication to investing in talent was recognised through several awards across its lifetime.

Creating an educational hub for local students

MAG explained their need for a new onsite educational centre at Manchester Airport, and so we channelled our experience and that of our specialist supply chain to facilitate the concept, design and construction of this facility.

Named ‘Aerozone’, the facility will remain at Manchester Airport so that it can engage and educate local community organisations and schools on the world of aviation and possible career paths.

A giving mindset

Throughout the project lifetime, our own employees and those from our supply chain have raised just under £100,000 for various charities and community projects. Half was donated to charitable organisations such as CLIC Sargent, MIND, MacMillan, Marie Curie and the British Heart Foundation. The other half was invested into eight local community projects, the most recent included providing essential outdoor facilities for a local primary school.

We drove a number of key fundraising opportunities such as Hearts and Minds, Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, inter supply chain football matches, along with a number of on site raffles and bake sales.

Manchester Airport’s key position as the gateway to the North, meant that the eyes of residents, along with UK and international businesses were firmly fixed on the project. The delivery of a legacy beyond the bounds of the physical construction was important to both Laing O’Rourke and MAG.

Engaging with the local communities and people within Greater Manchester and Cheshire has been inspirational and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved over the two and a half year project lifetime.

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"Supporting the local community and region has been a key element of the Manchester Airport Transformation Programme. The team has been dedicated to bringing an engaging programme to local students, fundraising for charities and making in-kind donations to local groups and organisations. The legacy left beyond the construction work is long lasting and has been inspirational to be a part of.”

Gareth Jacques Laing O'Rourke Project Director
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“We were immensely proud to open our new-look Terminal Two to passengers for the first time in July, a project that was four years in the making and a year in waiting.

“Not only has this project given us a flagship terminal with world class facilities, cementing our place as the North’s intercontinental travel hub, but the build programme has also left a tangible legacy for our local communities. This was always important to us and we were delighted that Laing O’Rourke shared this vision.”

Karen Smart Managing Director at Manchester Airport

of employees working on the project were from the local area


of project spend with local suppliers


hours of specialist STEM and career-based student activities