The Government is months away from defining its plans for locating “tens of thousands of people into large and developed regional cities”, according to the Government Property Unit.
The GPU was created in 2010 to create efficiencies across the Government estate, and is co-ordinating the regional hubs programme which is seeing 18 large offices created around the UK to co-locate local public sector departments, including 13 hubs with the HMRC. The HMRC last month confirmed its letting of 350,000 sq ft in Liverpool’s India Buildings.
Speaking at MIPIM UK, Simon Morris, advisor to the GPU, said that alongside the regional hubs scheme, the advisory body was also pulling together a massive body of work, known as the ‘public bodies relocation programme’, which is aiming to move out all non-ministerial Government departments currently located within London and its 60-mile radius, into cities across the UK.
Morris called the re-location work “the largest Government rationalization there has ever been”. The programme forms part of the Government’s industrial strategy published earlier this year, but was only briefly mentioned in the report and has received little focus in the press.
Morris said the GPU was looking to create clusters of similar types of departments and allocate them to different cities, “for instance a health cluster in Leeds, financial in Edinburgh, and culture in Manchester”.
Alongside, the GPU would encourage private sector organisations to take space in the areas.
The GPU is working on the location analysis and defining its target cities, particularly focusing on cities with strengths in transport connectivity, universities, and skills.
While choosing areas that people would wish to live in was key to the GPU’s project, Morris also conceded that he expected departments to lose “up to 75% of there staff” if they confirmed a move out of the capital. This could mean significant job creation for the cities outside of London.
A Government Property Unit location in Manchester has been on the cards for a number of years, with the requirement size veering from 250,000 sq ft up to 950,000 sq ft, linked to sites such as Mayfield which was once hoped to become the home of a “Whitehall of the North” before the coalition Government shelved plans in 2010.
Morris said the Government was supportive of the relocation plans: “Number 10 said this is not about saving money, it’s about driving growth across the UK.”
Securing major Government office requirements would be a game-changer for many of the country’s regional cities, but especially for places such as Liverpool with a struggling office market and a need to create more private sector jobs. While there are several large-scale office development on the cards, for instance at Pall Mall and Liverpool Waters, sizable pre-lets are required to get them out of the ground.
- MIPIM UK coverage was brought to you in association with Willmott Dixon. Place North West can be found on stand H34