Citylabs Manchester

Client Challenges

When the former Royal Eye Hospital in Manchester became vacant, due to the relocation of the Eye Hospital to new accommodation, the building’s owners Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust needed to find a viable solution for its continued use which would support the Trust’s aims as an Academic Health Science Centre. Along with a number of local partners, CMUHFT had decided to seek a development partner to adapt and extend the building to provide laboratory and office accommodation, a café, exhibition space, meeting rooms and conference facilities. It needed advice on what level of public sector funding might be required and how to manage the process of selecting a private sector partner. 

Our Solutions

Creative Places provided strategic advice to the implementation team, looking first at viability and deliverability and then the nature of the development agreement structure that would best attract a private sector partner to undertake the development. We assessed the level of public sector funding likely to be required using our knowledge of cost and value for such buildings and prepared a valuation report to support the funding case. We gave guidance on the nature of agreements required for both pre and post construction and played an integral part in the partner selection process.


A private sector partner, Bruntwood/Manchester Science Park, together with public sector gap funding, was secured to deliver the project. The 94,000 sq ft Citylabs development opened in Spring 2014 and has delivered high quality space for a number of occupiers working with the Trust. Our understanding of the needs of private sector partner and R&D occupiers, the structuring of development agreements and the soft infrastructure development required to make a project successful has enabled the client to progress the procurement process within a tight timescale – ultimately delivering something that achieves what will be good for the wider hospital campus and the hospital’s business.  The success of the project is such that the hospital are now looking for a partner to bring forward further space, which we are again helping with.