Planning bid for next phase of South Cambridge Science Centre

Plans for a 44,650 sq.ft. laboratory building in the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Cambridge, Oxford and London have been submitted.

This new building would bring developer Abstract’s total footprint at SCSC to 182,900 sq. ft of lab space.

Cambridge – a global centre for the science sector – is currently restricted by a significant lack of ‘best-in-class’ lab space. The shortage has caused rents to soar, deterring businesses from moving their operations to the city.

Recent figures from commercial property specialists Cushman & Wakefield show that demand for science space in the Golden Triangle has surged to its highest level since 2015. There is now a real shortage of laboratory space in Cambridge, which heavily relies on the sector for employment and investment.

Rents have risen to around £70 per square foot, a new record high, leaving science firms unable to move, expand or attract new talent and inspire existing teams.

Mark Glatman, Chief Executive of Abstract, said, “In addition to soaring rents and a lack of new space being built, there are several developers sitting on land that they bought at the peak of the market, for upwards of £7 million per acre, at a time when building costs and interest rates were much lower.

“These developers continue to hold the land, inactive, while they wait for improved economic conditions.

“As a result, several large-scale laboratory schemes that were due to be completed in 2025/2026 have stalled, with developers and investors having decided not to build.

“We are now seeing a perfect storm, with less available space and exponentially higher rents, making the search for affordable lab space more challenging than ever before.

“The demand on the very small amount of space currently available is exceptionally high.”

Abstract are working on the first phase of their laboratory development – 140,000 sq ft of labs will be completed by the first quarter of 2025, with works to the second phase to due to start in June 2025.

Mark added, “Vitally, thanks to strategically and well-timed land purchases, this lab space will be available, fully fitted and operational, for only £55 per square foot.

For a business taking 50,000 square feet, this will represent an extraordinary saving of at least £1 million per year, compared to other local science parks.

“From the perspective of a life science sector investor, the ability to save £1m per annum in operational overheads is hugely attractive, as this saving can instead be spent on the research and development of products, rather than on over-inflated real estate.”

Abstract – understanding the challenges of sourcing funding – may also consider direct investment into science organisations.

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