Government announces new digital hub for Manchester

Manchester is poised to become a major player in the digital government landscape following a significant land deal announced this week. The Government Property Agency (GPA) has exchanged contracts with Manchester City Council (MCC) to acquire five acres of the former Central Retail Park in Ancoats, paving the way for the construction of the Manchester Digital Campus.

This ambitious project represents a major investment in both the city’s infrastructure and its digital future. The state-of-the-art campus will serve as a central hub for approximately 7,000 civil servants, consolidating various digital government departments under one roof. This consolidation is expected to streamline operations and foster collaboration within the Civil Service.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office, Alex Burghart, hailed the project as a win-win situation. “This latest expansion in Manchester not only represents our ongoing commitment to investing in digital excellence,” he stated, “but also signifies our dedication to contributing positively to the city’s vibrant community and economy.” The new campus is envisioned as a modern and productive work environment, designed to inspire civil servants and empower them to deliver exceptional service to taxpayers.

The land deal signifies a continuation of the collaborative efforts undertaken by MCC and GPA last year. This collaboration involved establishing an updated Strategic Regeneration Framework, a shared vision to revitalize the former retail site. The project is expected to create significant employment opportunities and generate broader business prospects alongside the digital campus.

Manchester City Council Leader Bev Craig expressed her enthusiasm for the project, highlighting its dual benefit. “The new digital campus, set to be home to 7,000 digital jobs, represents a significant investment that will complement the wider regeneration story that has been unfolding in this part of our city centre for the past two decades,” she said. Craig emphasized the close collaboration with the GPA in unlocking the potential of the former retail space. This development will not only bring a new digital hub but will also create a new public green space, further enhancing the area’s appeal.

The project aligns with the government’s “levelling up” agenda, aiming to spread economic opportunity more equally across the UK. Clive Anderson, Director of Capital Projects at the GPA, underscored this commitment. “We are pleased to be working collaboratively with MCC to regenerate this important area of Manchester, as well as supporting the Government policies of levelling up and places for growth,” he remarked. The Manchester Digital Campus is also seen as an opportunity to tap into the city’s rich pool of talent, further propelling the Civil Service’s transformation journey.

With land purchase anticipated to be finalized next year, construction is set to begin in 2026. The Manchester Digital Campus is a project brimming with potential, promising to reshape the city’s digital landscape, create a hub for innovation, and contribute to the ongoing economic and social development of Manchester.

Image: From Going to Work by L S Lowry. Public domain.