Page last updated at 10:01 GMT, Monday, 7 December 2009

City 'Whitehall' plan step nearer

Computer-generated image of the site
More than 5,000 civil servants could be based at the new site

Plans for a government "Whitehall" for north-west England are to go to public consultation.

Plans have been drawn up for a civil service campus at the abandoned Mayfield railway station, close to Piccadilly, in Manchester city centre.

In total, more than 5,000 civil servants could be based on the Mayfield site by 2014, the government said.

Residents and businesses will be asked for their views in January. A feasibility study is also under way.

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
Sir Gus O'Donnell
Cabinet secretary and head of the Civil Service

The plans are part of a wider push to relocate 24,000 civil servant posts outside London.

Government Office for the North West, the Highways Agency and the Training and Development Agency are already due to move into Piccadilly Gate, close to Mayfield, next year.

The new proposal would expand this into a campus and include a large public park.

Sir Gus O'Donnell, cabinet secretary and head of the Civil Service, has given his backing to the proposal.

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.

Civil service chief Liz Meek said the move would save money

"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."

The proposals focus on the area bordered by the inner ring road to the south, Fairfield Street to the north and London Road to the west.

Regional Minister Phil Woolas said: "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."

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

Manchester City Council has given it backing to the plans.



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