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 to create the Manchester Digital Campus.

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.

This ambitious project represents a major investment in both the city’s infrastructure and its digital future. The implementation of the campus will foster further innovation across various business sectors and foster economic growth in the region.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office, Alex Burghart, said:

This latest expansion in Manchester not only represents our ongoing commitment to investing in digital excellence,but also signifies our dedication to contributing positively to the city’s vibrant community and economy. We are excited to create more modern and productive work environments in the heart of the city, where civil servants from across the North West can be inspired and take pride in delivering the best possible service to the taxpayer.”

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 and member of the GM Business Board Bev Craig said:

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. We have worked closely with the GPA to unlock the potential of the former retail site through this development, which will sit aside a new public green space delivered by the council – improving access to the existing Cotton Field Park.”

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, said: 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. The GPA is also proud to be creating fantastic and sustainable workplaces to support the transformation of the Civil Service, and we are committed to growing its presence in Manchester, drawing upon the city’s pool of talent.

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.