A brand new health centre in Altrincham, Greater Manchester is being converted into office space because the healthcare organisations set to occupy it have decided they cannot afford the rents.

The £24m building, the Altrincham Wellbeing Centre, was intended to be a healthcare hub for Trafford. A range of services were expected to occupy the building, including St. Johns Medical Centre, Manchester Mental Health Trust and Barrington Medical Centre.

St. Johns was offered space at a cost of £70,000 a year and Manchester Mental Health was expected to pay £35,000 per annum. Both these and other organisations, however, say that they cannot afford these rent levels.

As healthcare organisations cannot pay high rents, the property is being converted into office space at a cost of £7m, and there should now be no shortage of commercial tenants to occupy the building.

Manchester office space has the highest rental levels outside of London. There are many high-profile businesses that have relocated to Manchester and there is a high demand for top class office space. The Altrincham Wellbeing Centre situation highlights the difficulty nonprofit organisations have in affording Greater Manchester’s high rents. There is some financial help available; for example, Centric Community Projects provides free office space for nonprofit organisations and charities.

Start-up businesses also have difficulty paying high rents, so often use co-working spaces that do not involve a commitment to long-term leases, and that can be rented by the day.