Manchester College ramps up city centre project

LTE, the parent body of Manchester College, has started the process of procuring a contractor for a phase one building of up to 200,000 sq ft in the city centre, hoping to make an appointment this autumn.

Place North West understands that a deal for a central site is close to being secured. A prior information notice has been issued for the project, stating “the first phase is anticipated to provide general and specialist teaching and ancillary accommodation”.

Following the completion of a strategic review into its estate, LTE decided to trigger a £100m plan to redevelop its main Openshaw campus and develop a new central site, while earmarking its Shena Simon and St John’s sites for redevelopment.

IBI completed a masterplan for Openshaw in December last year, while the search for a city centre site was said in March to have been narrowed down from a longlist of 12 to four potential sites.

Each of the sites was said to be between two and three acres in size, with the potential for development of up to seven storeys.

The college said in March that the city centre campus was “the most critical element” of its estates plan, and that it is to centred on a new building to focus on professional, digital, and creative jobs.

It was descried then as a two-phase scheme, with the first phase taking up 172,000 sq ft and the second comprising 124,000 sq ft. This will include a Centre of Excellence for creative and digital skills, alongside an A-level centre.

LTE said that facilities could include recording studios, rehearsal space, dance studios, theatre spaces with capacity for between 200 and 500 people, and other flexible performance spaces.

Cushman & Wakefield is advising the college, which is also working with consultancy Pearson Fraser.

Pre-dating the strategic review, the college’s search for a city centre site has been a long one, with contenders at various points in time including two former Realty Estates sites in Boddington’s Brewery and the BBC campus on Oxford Road, now being developed as Circle Square.

LTE’s review identified the need to rationalise the college’s estate by more than 300,000 sq ft, reducing the number of locations from 14 to five.

Procurement proper will start this summer, said LTE, with a target appointment made in autumn 2018. The college is hoping to be in place for the start of the academic session starting in September 2020.

The prior information notice said: “A final procurement strategy is yet to be resolved, however strategies being considered include for early contractor engagement and the facility for the successful constructor to take responsibility for at least a portion of the finalised design work.

“The scope of works in anticipated to include an element of pre-construction advice, development of contract information and delivery of the new accommodation.”

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