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Manchester's Speculative Office Development Boom

Funny how quickly everyone gets used to success.

Another 200K SF speculative Manchester office start? Yawn. The latest announcement is from Bruntwood SciTech about an accelerated start on its plans for No 3 Circle Square, where development has been given the green light roughly a year ahead of schedule.

Yet Circle Square is not alone. A summer of mighty spec office announcements promises to fringe the existing city business core with large-floor plate office schemes.

As it will look: 244K SF No 3 Circle Square

Time was when 200K SF of speculative office development would keep the city talking for a decade. Great Bridgwater Street, the Amec development from the mid-1990s, did exactly that.

Today a series of large-scale interventions north, south and east of the traditional office core could contribute at least 500K SF and possibly more than 700K SF to the Manchester speculative office supply, which is already set for 1.2M SF of starts this year, according to Deloitte.

1. South

Bruntwood SciTech has pulled forward by about a year the speculative start of the 14-storey, 224K SF office building at No.3 Circle Square. The original plan, before demand for floor space at No 1 and No. 2 Circle Square rose, was not to start the latest commercial phase until late 2020.

Plans for the development of No.3 Circle Square have been accelerated as a response to soaring levels of demand for workspace from science and tech businesses looking to invest in Manchester — one of Europe’s top 20 digital cities and renowned tech hot spot.

No.1 and No.2 Circle Square, due for completion in summer 2020, have already begun to let to tenants including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which will relocate 300 employees to Circle Square.

Designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, No.3 Circle Square will offer 12 floors of office space, with floor plates of approximately 16K SF.

There will also be a new roof terrace and lounge to complement the conference and events facilities provided at No.1 Circle Square.

Subject to approval from Manchester City Council, it is expected that construction work on No.3 Circle Square will begin in March with completion in 2022.

2. North

Development manager MEPC has submitted plans for a 200K SF office block at 4 Angel Square, a move which kicks off the next phase at the 20-acre NOMA development. MEPC and the site's owner, Hermes, are targeting the big tech occupiers, mindful that Amazon occupies 90K SF at their Hanover House, thanks to a deal with coworking provider WeWork.

The new 11-storey office building will sit on the corner of Corporation Street and Miller Street and is NOMA’s first speculative new-build office development. MEPC is looking to capitalise on soaring demand for workspace in Manchester thanks to the city’s continued growth.

Designed by Manchester-based architects SimpsonHaugh, the Grade-A office building will bring more than 2,000 new workers to NOMA, joining the community of businesses, residents and creatives who have already made the area their home.

When completed, NOMA will provide 2.5M SF of both new-build and renovated office space alongside housing, public realm, retail and leisure opportunities.

3. East

U+I is taking a gentle punt on the prospects for large-scale office development at the £1.4B Mayfield development near Piccadilly Station. The latest plans have been adapted to meet occupier demand and include 244K SF of office floor space.

Designed by Morris + Company, the 13-storey building will offer 231K SF of workspace with the balance reserved for conference or performance space. Floor plates will be a little larger than Bruntwood’s Circle Square at 23K SF.

This block is not slated as speculative, although a smaller 70K SF foot-in-the-water will be developed on a speculative basis. Floor plates there will be 11K SF.

Overall Mayfield will provide 800K SF of office floor space as part of a radically mixed development. Its appeal is probably to the corporate sector, talks with Barclays having been mooted by some sources. The site has often been identified as a potential location for large-scale government requirements and that could still be its ultimate destination.