Argent and The Greater Manchester Property Venture Fund (GMPVF) have formed a joint venture to develop a 350,000 sq ft office scheme in Manchester city centre.

GMPVF, part of the largest local authority pension fund in the country, the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, has taken a 50% stake in the development which is owned by Argent.

Nick Whipp, executive director at GVA Grimley and fund manager to the GMPVF, said the scheme will not have problems securing development finance because both companies have strong financial backing.

‘These are unsettling times for many due to the current economic climate, but both the GMPVF and Argent, in contrast, have secure financial backing and can take forward development projects without bank finance,’ he said.

Argent is owned by Hermes, the UK’s largest pension fund manager, which is in turn owned by the BT Pension Fund.

The £100m development, at St Peter’s Square next to Manchester’s City Hall and central library, is expected to take around two years to complete.

The joint venture will submit a planning application for the scheme, which will have floor plates up to 20,000 sq ft, will be submitted in 2009.

Architect Glenn Howells Architects are designing the scheme following a competition launched in May this year.