Latest bids in for Manchester Town Hall move

Sixteen buildings have been put forward by landlords in Manchester city centre competing for the temporary relocation of 1,400 city council staff from the Town Hall.

Bids closed on Monday and the council and advisers have spent the rest of the week carrying out viewings of sites on the long list.

The city council originally picked Allied London's Spinningfields earlier this year but the deal fell through. The requirement could vary from 100,000 sq ft to 150,000 sq ft depending on efficiencies.

Speculation over the contest and the reasons for the re-run have been rife, theories ranging from the council seeking a better price, to complaints over the scoring in round one, to political pressure from developers who feel they are owed payback for supporting council initiatives in the past.

A revised scoring system involving more categories, each with a different weighting, includes points for proximity to the Town Hall, ease of access by public transport, building flexibility and financial offer.

One local agent close to the matter called the new scoring criteria a "right old muddle".

Another said: "The financial criteria could still be negotiated in such a way so that it is up to the discretion of the council where they go."

Favourites include Ask Developments' 1 First Street, United Utilities Linley House, MCR's 9 Portland Street and a full-circle return to Spinningfields.

Argent is understood not to have bid with Piccadilly Place as it is hopeful of landing the 60,000 sq ft to 70,000 sq ft Strategic Health Authority relocation from Gateway House nearby.

GVA Grimley is advising the council. The council wants to start taking occupation in the summer for a three-year period while the Town Hall undergoes a major refurbishment.

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