MSP wins approval for Citylabs life science campus expansion

Manchester Science Partnerships has gained consent for the 125,000 sq ft fourth phase of its £150m Citylabs life science campus on Oxford Road, and remains “determined to complete” the second phase which is on site and fully let to an occupier involved in Covid-19 testing.

MSP and its joint venture partner Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has been building out the Citylabs campus since 2013, with Citylabs 1.0 opening to life science occupiers in 2014 and quickly reaching full occupation.

Citylabs 4.0 will be built on Hathersage Road, south of MSP’s existing Oxford Road campus, and next to Citylabs 2.0 which is being built by Sir Robert McAlpine.

Construction staff remain on site at Citylabs 2.0 and the project is due to complete in May. Speaking to Place North West, Thomas Renn, managing director of MSP, said “despite challenges, we are determined to finish that project… we are through the main hump of the construction phase and are due to handover by June”.

The building is 100% pre-let to global molecular research company Qiagen, which announced earlier this month its $11.5bn acquisition by diagnostics giant Thermo Fisher. Qiagen has a strong specialism in infectious diseases and is involved in research and rapid testing of Covid 19.

The development of the fourth phase of Citylabs would require the demolition of the temporary two-storey Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust Diabetes Centre and the clearing of its adjacent surface car park.

A third phase, Citylabs 3.0, is the redevelopment of Old Saint Mary’s Hospital and adjoining chapel. This scheme was due to start on site imminently after the completion of 2.0. However Citylabs 4.0 is now expected to come forward first, in order to enable the relocation of existing staff and ensure medical continuity, according to Renn.

The construction contract for 4.0 is yet to be tendered and timescales could be reconsidered as part of the evolving Coronavirus situation, said Renn, however conversations are active with potential occupiers already looking at the space for expansion from other MSP sites.

Citylabs 4.0 was approved by Manchester City Council under delegated powers. If a planning application does not receive any objections, council officers have the power to grant consent to schemes without bringing them forward for discussion at planning committees.

Deloitte is the planner for Citylabs 4.0, and the architect is Sheppard Robson.

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