The BBC has picked four possible sites in Manchester and Salford for the new homes of Five Live, BBC Sport, and other departments set to leave London.
The BBC's Oxford Road studios in Manchester will not be kept
The corporation plans to close its current Oxford Road studios and build a new "media zone" by 2010.
BBC director of nations and regions Pat Loughrey told staff the new site would be "second to none in the world".
But it still depends on how much money the BBC gets from the government in its next licence fee settlement.
The locations - two in Manchester and two in Salford - have not been specified by the BBC.
Almost 2,000 jobs would be moved from London to Manchester under the plan.
Mr Loughrey told staff the plan was "arguably the biggest thing in the BBC's future".
"Our objective is that we produce something in Manchester of enormous value to the licence fee payers," he said.
"We will deliver real value. Value means value for money, cost effectiveness."
There would be a "relentless drive to find the most economic means of delivering the vision", he added.
"It also means finding the best technology, the best facilities and the best future resources to ensure that this site will be second to none in the world."
The departments expected to move are children's, including the CBBC and CBeebies channels, children's learning, BBC Sport, Five Live, Five Live Sports Extra and new media.
"I believe it will happen, assuming we get a reasonable funding settlement," BBC director general Mark Thompson recently said.
He has said the move is intended to reconnect "with communities across the UK" and "change our tone of voice and open our doors to new talent and perspectives".