03Other centres have a role to play but are unlikely to provide as much prosperity

This certainly does not mean that the city centre should be the only source of prosperity – the dark purple coloured parts of the maps show that in both Birmingham and Manchester there are high income areas that draw their higher incomes from other sources. And where possible policy should facilitate the growth of businesses in areas outside of the city centre. But there are two things to consider within this. The first is that these areas are unlikely to have as large a reach as the city centre. Figure 4 shows that Trafford Park, the second largest centre of production in Manchester in 2011, had a much smaller orbit than (an underperforming) Manchester city centre. The second is that because of the benefits that a city centre offers to high productivity services businesses, this is the place in the respective cities most likely to attract in more of these types of activity.4

Figure 5: How Trafford Park provides prosperity for the wider city

Source: ONS; Census 2011

Note: The map uses the average commuting figure into Manchester city centre as the cut off to allow comparability with Figure 1.


  • 4 McDonald R (2019), City centres: past, present and future, London: Centre for Cities