Salford University is close to taking 600,000 sq ft at Peel Holding's Media City UK in Salford Quays – nearly twice the size of the BBC offices due to open in 2011.
Ed Burrows, Peel's project director of Media City UK, gave the news at an event organised by the Forum for the Built Environment at the Pie Factory TV studios at Salford Quays. He said: "We're in discussions with Salford University over relocating the arts, media and social studies faculty into 600,000 sq ft of offices. It would be a big piece of building and be situated behind one of the three BBC blocks."
The BBC is set to occupy 330,000 sq ft out of a total office allocation of 1.3m sq ft in the outline consent for the 200-acre scheme. Other elements will include 532 apartments, a five-acre park, a new Metrolink tram station, car parking, hotels, retail and leisure. The first 800 BBC staff will arrive when the Oxford Road, Manchester, office closes in Christmas 2010. Five national BBC departments are due to move from London the following year.
Burrows quipped that the Salford University students would "knock some of the shiny edges off the new development and help the BBC to feel more at home."
He also confirmed the location of the site being discussed with ITV for a possible relocation from Quay Street in Manchester city centre. The plot is over a proposed new footbridge from the BBC on the Trafford side of the Quays closer to the Imperial War Museum, North.
Lead contractor Bovis started on site in June and is currently up to the fourth floor of the core of the BBC's first building.
The North West Development Agency is also examining proposals to establish a facility for the region's other universities at Media City UK.
Burrows said the ambitious scheme was, wherever possible, being driven with the support of locally based consultants. The legal advisers are Cobbetts and Addleshaw Goddard. Chapman Taylor and Fairhursts Design Group are the retained architects. Benoy helped draw up the masterplan. Faber Maunsell, Jacobs Babtie, Gillespies, and quantity surveyors Gleeds were also mentioned in the team roll-call.
The gathered audience was shown a film of excerpts from shows filmed in the Pie Factory, which opened in February and boasts 50,000 sq ft of sound stage and 20,000 sq ft of offices. Further development is planned at the Pie Factory.