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Civil service campus plan moves a step closer

 Regional Minister Phil Woolas said: “The masterplan is an exciting vision and comes at a time when the Government is looking to move more civil servants out of London and the South East.

“The benefits of the North West are obvious to all of us who live and work here. This sort of proposed development can only enhance the region’s reputation for attracting civil servants from the south.”

Liz Meek, Regional Director for Government Office for the North West, said: “The benefits of the proposed civil service campus are clear.  We are able to create greater efficiencies by redeveloping Government land at the same time as regenerating an important part of the city centre.

“Most importantly, this will also create better joined-up government delivering better public services for the people of the region.”

The framework was today submitted to the city council by the owners of the land, BRBR, a company wholly owned by the Department for Transport and this will form the basis for a public consultation exercise.

A spokesman said: “This document establishes guiding principles for the future of Mayfield and sets out in detail how this now largely neglected area of the city centre can be transformed by the imaginative use of land currently owned by the Government.”

The masterplan focuses on the former Mayfield railway station and covers an area bordered by the inner ring road to the south, Fairfield Street to the north and London Road to the west.

To maximise the regeneration potential the proposals have also been considered in the context of a wider city centre study area extending from Ardwick to the south, Aytoun Street to the north and Whitworth Street to the west.

Plans for the Mayfield area were first revealed in May when key Government departments agreed to fund a feasibility study into the idea of establishing a civil service campus on the site.

This would have the potential to house some 5,000 civil servants, bringing together staff from across Greater Manchester with others relocating out of London and the South East under the Government’s Operational Efficiency Programme commitments.

The feasibility study, which is looking at the viability of the proposed new civil service campus, is due to report in February.

Existing tenants have been kept in touch with the progress of the masterplan and the proposals are expected to go to public consultation in the New Year.

Government Office for the North West, the Highways Agency and the Training and Development Agency have all announced plans to move to nearby Piccadilly Gate, formerly Rail House, in 2010.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "Manchester is a city where organisations from all sectors want to invest, as these ambitious plans clearly demonstrate. As well as creating new jobs for the city, we would also see an area of the city centre regenerated in a lasting and dramatic way.

“It is important that central government looks beyond Whitehall when it comes to the location of staff, and I await with interest the outcome of the public consultation."

Sir Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary and head of the Civil Service, gave his backing to the proposal when he visited Manchester today. He was speaking at Civil Service Live, an event which brings together civil servants from around the country to share best practice and develop new ways of delivering services.

He said: “A lot of people think the Civil Service is all about Sir Humphreys tucked away in Whitehall, but 73 per cent of Civil Servants actually work outside London. There are around 60,000 civil servants in the North West, who work on the frontline, delivering public services that have a vital role to play in helping the region through the downturn. A centre such as this would help to make the Civil Service more efficient and streamlined.”

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