The BBC's governors have approved plans to move some departments to Greater Manchester, saying the relocation gives licence fee payers value for money.
The Salford site hopes to become a 'media hub'
"The BBC has been too London-centric for too long," said acting Chairman Anthony Salz, announcing the decision.
But he stressed the move to Salford still depends on the licence fee settlement, which is due in early 2007.
This was the last ruling made by the BBC governors, who will be replaced by the independent BBC Trust in January.
The Trust will make the final decision on whether to go ahead with the move to Salford, which the BBC hopes will cut costs.
Key departments earmarked to move north include Children's, Sport, New Media, Five Live, Five Live Sports Extra and Research and Development.
However, Salz said the governor's support for the ambitious project was "not unconditional".
"Licence fee payers most definitely want a BBC that reflects and brings wider benefits to all parts of the United Kingdom, but not at any price," he said.
"Over the next five years the project would mean a significant cash outflow without any offsetting savings.
"More detailed work will be needed during 2007 before decisions can be taken that will provide final robust plans."
He added that the BBC needed to resolve contractual issues with the Salford MediaCity:UK team, who were the preferred bidder for the move.