Gleeson City Living, Urban Splash, London & Amsterdam and Inpartnership, a consortium including Bovis Lend Lease and City Developments, are competing to become development partner to the Ancoats Urban Village Company. Second-stage submissions are to be made by 26 January, with a decision due next month.
The client, developer and local community will then select an architect. This contrasts sharply with the Greenwich and Allerton Bywater schemes where architect and developer teams submitted joint plans.
Lyn Fenton, development director of the Ancoats Urban Village Company, said she wanted to avoid the possibility of "a developer hiding behind the skirts of a high-profile architect".
"We deliberately separated the two issues. We want to be comfortable that the developer can finance the scheme and shares our outlook before we get distracted by the calibre of the professional team," she said.
We wanted to avoid the possibility of a developer hiding behind the skirts of a high-profile architect
Lyn Fenton, Ancoats Urban Village
Progress on the third of English Partnerships' controversial villages comes in the same week that the government set targets for reducing substandard housing by 2004, and eliminating it by 2010.
Launching its report, A New Commitment to Neighbourhood Renewal: National Strategy Action Plan, the government also reiterated last year's commitment over spending an extra £1.6bn on housing.
Fenton said it would be unhelpful to put a value on the Manchester scheme, which will be built on a 25 acre site that includes the 204-home Cardroom Estate, and the former sites of a hospital and primary school.