Work on £108m Denton Corker Marshall project in Manchester begins before official go-ahead
two years on from a government design competition, work has started on the £108m Manchester Civil Justice Centre PFI scheme, the biggest project of its type since the Royal Courts of Justice were built in London in 1870.

Contractor Bovis Lend Lease started construction last week, just days before a formal announcement from the Department for Constitutional Affairs confirmed that the scheme was going ahead.

The department signed a lease agreement with developer Allied London Properties and Manchester council last Friday.

Australian practice Denton Corker Marshall beat off Richard Rogers Partnership and Pringle Richards Sharratt in early 2002 to win the contract.

The project was a pilot by the then Lord Chancellor's Department to separate the appointment of the architect from the developer in a bid to improve design quality in PFI schemes.

The court will occupy a prime location on the Spinningfields regeneration site in the city centre.

City council leader Richard Leese said: "The radical architecture of the Civil Justice Centre keeps Manchester at the forefront of world-class urban development."

Steve Quinlan, a director of Denton Corker Marshall, said: "Manchester is a city with a great tradition of expressive and innovative architecture and Urban Design. This project reinforces a commitment to architecture as a defining quality of a city's personality, and in doing so offers the potential for a building of international significance."

The court, scheduled to complete in January 2007, will house 47 modern, purpose-built courts that include technology for video conferencing.

The team on the project includes engineer Connell Mott MacDonald, QS Gardiner & Theobald and project manager Second London Wall. Mouchel Parkman acted as client's adviser.