Manchester City Council is reportedly amongst the four local authorities being approached by the Office of Government Commerce to put forward consideration sites able to house a 250,000 sq ft headquarters for the Ministry of Justice.
The Ministry of Justice, created in May 2007 out of the merger of the Department of Constitutional Affairs and parts of the Home Office, has been looking at the potential for consolidating its ten offices in the capital into a single headquarters for some time, but has previously only concentrated on London.
The city authorities, including Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol, have already contacted local property agents and developers about the requirement, which is expected to signal a significant upturn in the government's drive to cut costs by relocating out of the capital.
The plans are a part of the Ministry of Justice's £1bn cost saving plans in advance of the Treasury's Operational Efficiency Review which will feature in the government's 2009-2010 budget this April.
Under the Operational Efficiency Review government departments are being urged to make savings of £30bn, mostly through property, procurement and IT.
The Lyons Report, published five years ago, recommended that 1,625 Department for Constitutional Affairs staff should be relocated to the regions.
At the end of 2008 the department moved back into its 304,729 sq ft headquarters at 102 Petty France following a major refurbishment.
The Ministry of Justice is understood to want a new office fully operational by 2013.