Plot 9 First Street, Ask, P.Ask Real Estate
Jon Matthews designed the scheme. Credit: via Ask Real Estate

Ask revises next First Street office on changing occupier demand 

Dan Whelan

The developer wants spades in the ground by May after submitting plans to Manchester City Council for a 130,000 sq ft scheme. 

Ask Real Estate’s revised First Street proposal supersedes a previous 280,000 sq ft iteration of the project, for which the developer won consent in April 2020. 

The updated 10-storey plans occupy plot 9a of the First Street masterplan, while the previous iteration would have covered both plots 9a and 9b. 

A building with reduced floorplates, 16,700 sq ft as opposed to 30,000 sq ft, is now planned in response to changing working habits whereby occupiers require less office space than before the pandemic due to the adoption of hybrid models of working. 

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

Other elements of the scheme include coworking space, winter gardens, outdoor roof terraces, and an exercise studio. 

Jon Matthews Architects designed the scheme, Deloitte is the planning consultant and Bam is lined up as lead contractor. 

If work begins in May as planned, the scheme could be operational two years later. Autotrader has signed an 80,000 sq ft pre-let for the plot 9 office. 

The latest proposals for plot 9 come 12 months after Ask revealed its intentions for One Medlock Street, a 41-storey residential development. A planning application for this project has not been submitted. 


The earlier 280,000 sq ft proposal. Credit: via planning documents.


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Whilst this is good, I am somewhat disappointed as the First Street area was a real opportunity for Manchester to showcase some first-class, revolutionary (to Manchester) skyscrapers, whilst the location is also not being a million miles away from the Great Jackson Street development and so would’ve added to the skyline/cluster in that area. As I work in the area it would’ve been nice to be in a district of towering skyscrapers and large office blocks. However, with that being said the area has been left dormant for too long now and so some spades in ground is very much needed. I just hope for the other plots we can get at least 1 tower built.

By Verticality

More Offices? But that can’t be . I hope they’ve run this past Dan, nobody here wants offices…oh wait ..they do?

By Anonymous

bit boring

By Nasty Jon

Verticality, Downing are on site now about to start construction of a 45 storey tower, literally next to this office.

By Anon

Positive news on a number of fronts – demonstrates the underlying strengths of city economy going forwards; indicates a developer recognising that they need to build a proven / tested sustainable product; and gives signals to those who thought the city centre would struggle in a Post Covid world were possibly wrong!

By Anonymous

Love it – the Louis Kahn corner window with those blade columns at the corner of the colonnade, the framing to the roof terrace, the colour… all great stuff. Much more character than the previous design. Hopefully all the other corners get the same treatment!

By Big fan

Dull as dishwater

By Monty

This looks like the sort of thing you’d see in Runcorn. This whole First Street development is a mess.

By Elephant

Thank goodness they’ve changed the design. The other was too bulky and those fins were just too much. This is much better.

By Andrew

Have watched this site grow for years . Just one of many business districts growing up in Manchester . Very impressive.

By Anonymous

Nasty Jon ,thank you for your considered insight. What would you like to see? The Taj Mahal?, The Palace of Versailles perhaps?, it’s a modern office block, functional and reasonably attractive . It needs also to be affordable. When they start building office blocks that delight every sense like the Guggenheim museum I shall assume Manchester will have arrived on the world scene, we’ll all be millionaires and it will make the front page of PNW. Until then this will do very nicely.

By Upbeatpete

I’ve an idea for the name for this building – Vanilla

By Cheggers

It’s a shame this site wasn’t used for some iconic looking skyscrapers to help turn Manchester’s skyline into something world renowned.


Not calling for a skyscraper but four to six floors added to better maximise the plot. Available land like here is becoming scarcer in central Manchester, so the original plan size would have done that.

By Phil

Manchester has more than enough skyscrapers with loads more approved and ready to be built. I’m happy enough with first st being lower rise and a bit more human in scale. I remember it as the old Gasworks and a site of dereliction. Manchester has come a long way.

By Anonymous

I worked here before lockdown, there is very little to do there, were wll working from home now so I’m surprised they want to build more offices.

By Cal

Changing occupier demand = reduced occupier demand

By Dan

no one wants to work from home so this will be a timely addition to a growing office supply.

By Calgon

Thankfully no one actually listens to armchair experts otherwise nothing would be built!

By DesparateDan

A considerable improvement on the usual First Street standard and much more welcome than additional dull glass towers.

By Gene Walker

All of the published information and evidence identifies high levels of demand for office space in Manchester.

By Feted

Are there going to be more office’s in Liverpool or have they all been canselled by the government? Mary x

By Mary Woolley

A huge, huge improvement on the original proposal.

By The Squirrel's Nuts