Publication Local Plan, Chapter 2: Spatial portrait

About Salford

2.1 The city of Salford is located at the heart of the metropolitan area that runs across the southern part of the North West Region of England. It lies on the western side of Greater Manchester, sharing boundaries with Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Trafford, Warrington and Wigan.

2.2 City Centre Salford, Salford Quays, and some adjoining areas have experienced significant growth and investment in recent years and provide a major concentration of employment, retail, leisure, tourism and cultural opportunities. However, some of the inner neighbourhoods surrounding the City Centre are characterised by high levels of deprivation, and contribute towards Salford being identified as the 19th most deprived local authority in England. [1] They form part of a much wider concentration of deprivation at the heart of the conurbation which extends into Manchester and Trafford. The River Irwell is a distinctive landscape feature running through this eastern part of the city, but it results in parts of the most accessible, economically important and socially deprived areas being at significant risk of flooding.

2.3 The rest of the city is generally much more suburban in character. It includes some of Greater Manchester’s most affluent residential areas such as Worsley, Boothstown and Ellesmere Park, and fulfils an important economic function with some of the city’s best performing employment areas such as Agecroft and Northbank. There are however concentrations of deprivation in some neighbourhoods such as Little Hulton and Eccles which share similar challenges to large parts of the centre of the conurbation.

2.4 In recent years, Salford has seen a substantial amount of investment in new homes, businesses, infrastructure and the public realm. The delivery of major projects such as MediaCityUK, Greengate, Port Salford and the AJ Bell Stadium, and the revitalisation of road and riverside corridors, has transformed large areas of Salford and had a significant impact on the city’s economy and profile. However, Salford has not yet reached its full potential and increasing numbers of people are choosing it as a place to live, work, invest and visit. With a population of 254,400, the city has experienced significant growth over the last 15 years, and this has been at a considerably higher rate (17%) than Greater Manchester (11%) or the North West (7%) [2].

2.5 There is a huge agglomeration of economic activity at the centre of Greater Manchester, including extensive parts of south-east Salford and stretching into central Manchester and north-east Trafford. Salford is a strategically important location not just within Greater Manchester but the north of England as a whole. It includes the confluence of the M60, M61, M62 and M602 motorways, one of the busiest stretches in the country, as well as rail infrastructure that is vital to the functioning of the wider network. This transport infrastructure provides direct links to Leeds and Liverpool, and Manchester Airport, which is just 10 miles to the south of the city. High levels of congestion on parts of the transport network threaten some of these locational advantages.

2.6 Salford is a major employment centre which makes a significant contribution towards Greater Manchester’s economy. There are over 9,500 active businesses in the city [3], and a large number of these are concentrated within City Centre Salford and Salford Quays. Total employment reached over 132,000 in 2016 [4] across a wide range of sectors, however local employment is heavily dependent on service sectors, with the city having a strong financial and services market, and an expanding creative, media and digital sector concentrated at MediaCityUK. Salford is home to a number of major employers including the BBC, ITV, TalkTalk, Bupa, University of Salford and Salford Royal Hospital. Although the city’s unemployment rate has seen a substantial recent reduction, falling to 5.1% in the year to March 2019, this is still above the regional and national rates of 4.4% and 4.0% respectively. [5]

2.7 Salford shares its city centre with neighbouring Manchester, with the main retail offer being located within Manchester. The City Centre is hugely important to the region’s economy as its primary employment, retail, tourism and leisure destination. The areas of the City Centre which are located in Salford are experiencing a period of considerable transformation, and these distinct neighbourhoods, and the cultural and historic assets and spaces within them, make a significant contribution to the successful functioning of the City Centre as a whole. There is a network of six town centres and 20 local centres across the city, which meet a range of shopping needs and act as a focal point for local communities, contributing towards local identity and the successful functioning of the city’s neighbourhoods.

2.8 Housing is an issue of great significance within the city. Average house prices have increased rapidly in recent years and are now around 19% above the previous peak of 2007 [6]. The house price to income ratio has risen above 5.8 (with above 4 being deemed unaffordable), indicating that there are affordability issues in the city [7]. Although the ratio is considerably lower than the average for England as a whole (8.0), a significant number of households still find it financially difficult to access the right type of housing. Over the last 15 years a very strong apartment market has developed in and around the City Centre and Salford Quays, accounting for a significant number of Salford’s new dwellings. This is reflected in the higher than average proportion of dwellings in Salford that are apartments (28.8%), when compared to the Greater Manchester (19.4%) and England (22.1%) averages. [8]

2.9 The city’s historic environment makes a significant contribution towards the character and identify of Salford. The city currently has 235 listed buildings, 16 conservation areas, three scheduled ancient monuments and two registered parks and gardens, as well as a broad range of other heritage assets, including archaeology dating back to the city’s beginnings and features such as the Bridgewater Canal and Barton Aerodrome that represent the city’s legacy of industrial and transport heritage.

2.10 Despite being at the heart of a large conurbation, Salford accommodates a wide range of green and blue infrastructure, consisting of green spaces, parks, woodlands, nature reserves, canals, golf courses, allotments and gardens. Over 30% of Salford’s land area is Green Belt. There are two major areas or green infrastructure in Salford which are sub-regionally important, stretching beyond the city’s boundaries. The Irwell Valley is a key landscape corridor connecting the urban area to the countryside and fulfilling a wide range of functions including recreation, biodiversity and flood risk mitigation. Chat Moss is the largest area of open land within the city, providing a distinctive landscape which forms part of a wider area of mossland that extends into Wigan and Warrington. The environmental quality of Chat Moss has been degraded over many decades as a result of peat cutting and agricultural activity, however some parts of the area are already under restoration to lowland raised bog and there remain significant opportunities for securing further restoration. The West Salford Greenway provides a more locally significant area of green infrastructure, extending through the central western part of the city.

2.11 Salford contains 1,800 hectares of the best and most versatile agricultural land (grades 1 and 2), all of which is located in Chat Moss. This represents approximately 36% of all grade 1 and 2 land in Greater Manchester, and it is therefore a resource of sub-regional importance.

2.12 Per capita carbon emissions in Salford have reduced significantly over recent years, from 8.4 tonnes in 2005 to 5.0 tonnes in 2017 [9]. However, despite this drop, Salford has the second highest per capita emissions of the ten Greater Manchester districts, primarily due to the impacts of traffic on the motorways and A roads across the city. In July 2019, the city council declared a climate emergency, identifying the need for governments at all levels to make the issue their top priority.

2.13 There are considerable challenges within the city with regards to health, education and skills. Salford currently suffers from very significant health inequalities, and average health levels in the city are much worse than the national average. Male life expectancy at birth for Salford residents is 2.5 years less than the UK, and female life expectancy at birth is 2.0 years less. [10] There are also significant inequalities across the city with the average life expectancy in the city’s most deprived areas being 10.9 years lower for men and 7.6 years lower for women than its least deprived areas. [11] Whilst there have been some significant improvements in educational performance in recent years, Salford remains below the national average for key indicators and there are also large disparities in educational attainment across the city.


2.14 The next 20 years or so are going to be very important for Salford. Substantial progress has been made in securing the city’s regeneration, but there are significant challenges ahead in meeting Salford’s future development needs whilst tackling inequality and protecting its valued and attractive environment. It will be essential that new development is carefully integrated into the city in such a way that maximises benefits for all Salford residents and responds to the identified challenges so that the city can prosper.

2.15 Some of the key challenges include how to:

  • Tackle inequality, promote fairness, and ensure that all residents share in the benefits of development
  • Increase average levels of health and educational attainment, and reduce disparities
  • Accommodate Salford’s growing population [12], in housing that meets the full range of needs
  • Continue to develop a strong, diverse economy that can withstand economic shocks and provide a range of accessible employment opportunities
  • Facilitate the continued success of those locations that are essential to Greater Manchester’s future prospects, such as the City Centre and Salford Quays
  • Cope with the demand for travel associated with residents, businesses and tourists, in a sustainable way without worsening congestion
  • Deliver the infrastructure required to support new development, including transport, schools and health facilities
  • Ensure that development has a positive impact on environmental and heritage assets, and contributes to attractive and distinctive places
  • Minimise contributions to climate change and adapt to its effects, including reducing the risk and impacts of flooding

Figure 1 - Spatial portrait


[1] Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (September 2019) The English Indices of Deprivation 2019

[2] Office for National Statistics (June 2019) 2018 mid-year population estimates

[3] Office for National Statistics  (November 2017) Business Demography 2016

[4] Oxford Economics (January 2017) Greater Manchester Forecasting Model 2017

[5] Unemployment rate - aged 16-64 (%) ONS – Annual Population Survey

[6] HM Land Registry UK House Price Index – comparing a three-month rolling average price for all property types for November 2007 and June 2019

[7] Office for National Statistics (March 2019) House price to workplace-based earnings ratio, using median house price to median gross annual workplace-based earnings 2018

[8] Office for National Statistics (December 2012) Key statistics for local authorities, property types

[9] Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (June 2019) UK local authority and regional carbon dioxide emissions national statistics.

[10] Salford City Council (February 2018) Life Expectancy at Birth 2016: Analysis

[11] Public Health England (2018) Salford Health Profile 2018

[12] The ONS 2016-based population projection for Salford in 2037 is almost 287,000, an increase of 14% on the 2017 population

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