Lawrence Jones MBE, founder and CEO of Manchester technology firm UKFast, has agreed a deal with Manchester City Council to acquire the 120,000 sq. ft. plot of land opposite UKFast’s Campus HQ in Birley Fields, Hulme.
The planned acquisition of the site is key to the continued growth and acceleration of UKFast and its associated companies, which together employ more than 400 people in Manchester and beyond.
The current Birley Fields Campus incorporates two identical 40,000 sq. ft. buildings, 1 and 3 Archway. The Campus is also home to the FastForward tech incubator, managed by Tech Manchester – a not-for-profit initiative funded by UKFast to support tech startups.
FastForward already provides a base for 15 startup and scaleup businesses, with Jones currently providing space in the incubator to these businesses free of charge.
Lawrence Jones and UKFast co-founder and MD Gail Jones have a long-term aspiration to create a dedicated tech campus, stimulating the UK tech community, creating jobs for Manchester and adding value to the city.
Proposed developments for the site are phased, with Phase 1 including an office building of at least 30,000 sq. ft. with surface car parking and Phase 2 bringing additional office accommodation and a multi-storey car park. An underground data centre may be included within the basement of one or both phases.
The land currently sits unused.
Lawrence Jones said: “From the moment I walked into the first Archway building I saw a much bigger picture, and knew we needed the building opposite and the land over the road. This is the first step in an incredibly exciting and ambitious move to support our development, but also to help the wider tech community.
“We’re investing to ensure the future development of our workforce and to support Manchester’s fast-growing economy. Across the FastForward incubator, UKFast and our associated businesses we’re set to support the creation of 300 long-term, sustainable job opportunities during the first phase alone.”
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "This expansion is important news. UKFast is an innovative company with a strong sense of social responsibility, helping Manchester’s people gain digital skills and access opportunities. Not only will this create hundreds of new jobs in a wide range of roles but it also reinforces the company's commitment to the city.
"This is the final piece in the jigsaw of the Birley Fields development and will make a major contribution to the ongoing regeneration of Hulme and the surrounding area."