Jon Matthews Architects designed the 180,000 sq ft First Street. Credit: via planning documents

Govt signs for 130,000 sq ft civil service hub in Manchester 

The Government Property Agency has signed a lease at Ask Real Estate’s First Street, where it plans to relocate 2,500 staff from Piccadilly Gate and Whitehall. 

Piccadilly Gate is to be demolished to make way for Manchester Piccadilly’s HS2 station. Subsequently, staff from government departments including National Highways will relocate to the new 130,000 sq ft First Street office. 

Around 700 of the staff that will work from the new Manchester office will be relocations from London. This forms part of the government’s Places for Growth programme, which aims to move 22,000 civil service roles out of the capital into the regions. 

As part of the same strategy the Department for Culture, Media & Sport took on 12,000 sq ft at Bruntwood Works’ Bloc off Marble Street in Manchester earlier this year.

In total, the government plans to move 2,500 London-based staff to Manchester. 

“The First Street development reaffirms Her Majesty’s Government’s long-term commitment to Manchester,” said Jacob Rees-Mogg, minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency.

“This new site will provide a home for civil servants from at least four different government departments, making it one of the largest hubs for cross-government collaboration and operation outside London.” 

John Hughes, managing director at Ask Real Estate said: “Attracting the GPA to the estate further establishes First Street as one of the most sought-after business destinations in the region.  

“We felt our next building on the estate, in particular the scheme’s green credentials, would be the perfect fit for the GPA with the Government’s sustainability drive, and we’re looking forward to welcoming them to the First Street estate.” 

Plans for the First Street building, designed by Jon Matthews Architects, were approved in May. The building is due to open in 2025.

The building aims to be the first in Manchester capable of achieving a minimum NABERS rating of 5.5* or above.   

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This is a vote of confidence in the city and will be a final puzzle piece in the maturing First Street area. What will the view be from the other end of the East Lancs?

By Popcorn Ready

A grim one lol

By Anonymous

More unfair prioritisation of Manchester over other cities, without any transparent process.

By Anonymous

Great news. Sooner Piccadilly Gate is demolished the better. Blot on the landscape

By Steve

If Liverpool had a vacant high quality office ( say in pall mall !!!!!) then it could argue

By George

Build them and they will come. And they keep coming!

By Anonymous

In the March 2019 count, Liverpool 9760 civil servant jobs, Manchester 7550…just saying.

By Dave

I love Northshoring, The more jobs they bring here the better. First St is just one of many business districts Manchester has and is building. I can’t help thinking though if Mayfield pulled their finger out finished the park and got on with the building that they would be favourite for some more government jobs moving northward.

By Jeff Smate

Great news, HS2 starting by demolishing Piccadilly Gate and 700 initial new job relocations. However,If the Government are relocating 2500 jobs to Manchester is there room on this site or will they be looking for other sites elsewhere in the city?

By Simon

It’s Liverpool with it’s opposition to the ship chanel and opposition to the second runway at Manchester Airport that has tried to stop the economic success of Manchester.On the other hand Greater Manchester has elected twice as mayor a Everton fan with connection to Liverpool.

By Anonymous

It’s green (in more ways than one) and it’s polished concrete. Love it! Just need a few more blocks, One City Road and One Medlock Street to start and it will finally be complete.

By Andrew

Well done Ask. I assumed they would go to Mayfield so that’s a great result for them. Liverpool is just too ponderous, non of its big projects seem to move forward at all.

By Derek

The “poor” North is a myth. Fact is, wealth created in the North trickles South via taxes and profits to govt. dpts, corp. hqs and other admins. also military bases, and so on. Scotland once independent will soon be as wealthy as Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, etc. The North of England will still create wealth but it will still flow down South, as ever.

By Anonymous

A minor correction – Highways England is now called ‘National Highways’

By Anonymous

    Re: Anonymous – thanks for pointing that out. We’ve fixed the story! – Julia

    By Julia Hatmaker

I expect a civil servant would prefer to live and work by a tidal river away from the hustle and bustle of a dense city centre?

By Liverpool Romance

Gutted for those who have to relocate

By Cal

Oxford Road is over capacity and Piccadilly is a treck away. Not a good move

By Baffl

It seems Civil Servants really would rather work in the hustle and bustle of a large exiting city after all, and they are clearly not the only ones. I guess thats why all the jobs keep coming here , the attraction of the Norths Capital is just so great that Manchester seems to be the major beneficiary of North shoring. Of course what’s good for Manchester attracting all of these jobs north is good for the North West’s smaller surrounding towns and cities too ,including tidal towns. This is great news for the area as a whole.

By Jeff Byrne

HS2 station should be underground. The idea of huge concrete viaducts dividing Manchester is disgusting and would never be accepted by southerners. Yet again the north is treated as second class by the Tories.


A shame that Piccadilly Gate is to be demolished. Far from being a ‘blot on the landscape’ it’s one of the few cheerful, colourful buildings in Manchester. The city is crammed full of drab boring buildings in various shades of grey.

By Philip Turtle

Why so much people transferring. Don’t we have people in North to do these jobs. Put house prices that locals can’t afford

By Anonymous

Splendid news for the North, but we need much more. As for Piccadilly Gate, it’s just a refurbished 60’s slab, ex Railway house. It will not be missed.

By Anonymous

2500 jobs moving to Manchester is of course good news but it’s a drop in the ocean when it comes to the civil service. There is much yet to done. HS2 needs to work in both directions.

By Anonymous

I like it. Green, jobs and in the city centre.

By Dan

I actually thought that some of these jobs would go to New Bailey, that’s where the HMRC are relocating and BT are opening their new Northern HQ so some of these buildings have very green credentials too…albeit that is relative . Perhaps there is time yet when the next tranche comes.

By Tom

The North didn’t have a dominant city at one time. That is clearly no longer the case.

By Elephant

What about social housing and deprivation in Manchester

By Anonymous

Social housing irrelevant in this case. 2500 civil servants don’t need them!

By Anonymous

We have an awful lot of offices to fill with more being built all the time. Offices mean jobs and jobs mean wealth. Bring it on.But then bring some more.

By Jock

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