Deloitte could follow X+Why into 100 Embankment. Credit: Place North West

Salford proposes 100 Embankment for GBR HQ

The city council has put forward the £40m office building as a contender to house the newly formed Great British Railways.

Salford forward funded the construction of the 166,000 sq ft 100 Embankment, which was developed by Ask and Tristan Capital Partners a short walk from Manchester Victoria station.

Although it initially struggled to attract tenants, with the building remaining unoccupied since its August 2020 completion, a management agreement was this month struck with flexible workspace operator X+Why for 28,600 sq ft.

In addition, a council property & regeneration briefing session next week will be asked to rubber-stamp a deal for 19,663 sq ft, clearing Salford’s director of place to negotiate terms.

The announcement follows confirmation in March that Greater Manchester as a broad entity was one of the 42 locations that had submitted a bid.

Barrow, Carlisle, Carnforth, Crewe, Liverpool City Region and Preston are also bidding, while Bolton and Rochdale have broken from the Greater Manchester pack with their own bids.

GBR is, in effect, a replacement for Network Rail as operator of the nation’s rail infrastructure and will also take over the DfT’s responsibilities surrounding contracting train operations and timetabling.

The government has committed to setting up its headquarters outside of London in line with the levelling up agenda, with the decision to be made this summer from a shortlist to be named in May.

The volume of space signed for is not likely to be significant, with advice for bidders underlining that publicly-owned buildings will be favoured for a facility that is expected to house functions, meetings and provide a base for a modest amount of staff.

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “Salford would be the perfect destination for the headquarters of Great British Railways.

“Not only are we vastly connected to this country’s railway history through figures such as George Bradshaw and the father of railways, George Stephenson, but we are a city that has always been at the forefront of travel.

“From the first horse-drawn carriages to the first steamboats, our history as Salfordians is rooted in advancing the way we get around.”

Bidding locations will be judged on six criteria: alignment with the levelling up agenda, value for money, railway heritage, opportunities for GBR, connectivity and public support.

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While the location is reasonably well connected, the government might baulk at placing the organisation next to what the city authorities claim is the epitome of starved investment, with constant (unnecessary) bottlenecks and throttled services…

And then there is the poor reaction to the city being given full HS2 (to its own original design, no less).

I suppose they need to put something forward but I maintain the story about 100E is not the lack of tenant but what that suggests about the level of rents that are really achieved in Manchester, versus those bragged about.

By Jeff

Normally Manchester is nailed on for something like this but the redwall Tory emergence has upset that outcome, think this might go to the North East or West Midlands.

By Anonymous

Will be a good location for attracting people who want to work for GBR in a large city compared to the other locations on offer except for York.

By Anonymous

Jeff can you explain that part of your comment in parenthesis “And then there is the poor reaction to the city being given full HS2 (to its own original design, no less)”.

By Anonymous

I’m surprised that the Mayor didn’t go so far as to claim that the wheel was invented in Salford in support of the flimsy justification for this bid……

By Bentley Driver

A good location but with little chance of winning, it will go to a tory marginal seat.

By Monty

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