Manchester’s First Street Hub reaches ‘topping out’ milestone

Topping out ceremony

(Press release Cabinet Office, Government Property Agency, and Alex Burghart MP:) A topping out ceremony has been held in Manchester at the Government Property Agency’s (GPA) First Street government hub to mark the building reaching its highest point.

The ceremony marks the beginning of the countdown to completion of the nine-storey c.12,000 sq. ft. office building, which is scheduled to be ready for internal fit-out by the end of the year.

Once complete, the hub will accommodate approximately 2,600 civil servants, including the Legal Aid Agency (LAA), the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED), and the Department for Education (DfE).

With more than 700 roles relocated from London to Manchester, this underlines the ongoing government commitment to Levelling Up.

Lead developer Ask Real Estate and its joint venture partner, Richardson, secured a full pre-let of the Grade A BREEAM Excellent office building to the GPA, which then signed a lease with PIC, the building’s owners, in 2022.

This latest development forms part of the Government Hubs Programme supporting economic growth across the UK. The programme is rationalising the government’s estate in towns and cities across the UK, playing a pivotal role in delivering modern, customer-focused and varied workspaces for civil servants. The design recognises that different types of work require different spaces to enable collaboration, creativity and community regardless of how people choose to work.

Senior representatives from the GPA, Ask Real Estate, BAM Construction and PIC - the investor funding the hub’s construction - and members of the wider supply chain gathered to mark the occasion with a traditional ‘Topping Out’ ceremony.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office, Alex Burghart, said: ‘We are committed to creating more modern and productive work environments where civil servants can be inspired and take pride in delivering the best possible service to the taxpayer. The new Manchester First Street Hub puts us in an even stronger position to attract talent from across the region into the civil service and better support the thousands of hard-working civil servants currently based in Manchester.’

Clive Anderson, the GPA’s Director of Capital Projects, said: ‘The entire project team is making excellent progress and it’s fantastic to celebrate reaching this significant stage in the programme. This new state-of-the-art office will provide a home for civil servants from across the government, making it one of the largest hubs for cross-departmental collaboration and operation outside London. The GPA remains immensely proud of  the industry-leading sustainability, accessibility and workplace standards delivered by the Government Hubs Programme. The construction is being carried out by BAM, appointed by Ask to deliver the main build. A competitive tender process for the subsequent fit-out works, scheduled to take a further 12 months, has just completed with the GPA due to make an announcement in the next few weeks.’

John Hughes, Managing Director at Ask, said: ‘It’s fantastic to see this project taking shape now and to be celebrating such a significant milestone in its construction. We’re proud to be working with the GPA to deliver a project which will provide a boost to the economic growth of the area, and to witness the further expansion of the First Street neighbourhood establishing it as a business location of choice.’

James Agar, Head of Long Income at PIC, added: ‘Government-let commercial property assets are an important, on-going area of specific focus for PIC, and we are pleased to make this long-term commitment to supporting the greening and modernisation of the UK Government’s estate. The First Street hub, Manchester, is a best-in-class development and joins 2 Ruskin Square, Croydon, as part of our expanding partnership with the GPA. An important feature of this development is that it is intended to be net zero carbon in operation, which exemplifies PIC’s purposeful investment strategy. Equally important is the collaborative effort projects like this demand, and we would especially like to thank our development partners Ask, and BAM Construction for working so successfully with us on the project.’

The First Street Hub is in the heart of Manchester and a few minutes’ walk from Oxford Road and Deansgate rail stations. It has been designed to be class-leading, meeting inclusive and accessible design standards.

Click here for the original press release.