Carter Jonas previously reported that investment in laboratory and office space in Oxford for 2022 was on track to break the previous record of £330 million set in 2021 and that prices for fitted lab space now exceed £100 per sq ft.

With demand for space from life science organisations reaching nearly 860,000 sq ft in Oxfordshire alone, chronic undersupply continues to pose all too familiar problems. So, how exactly are players in the life sciences sector continuing to play a crucial role in facilitating expansion of the Oxford eco-system? 

Kadans Science Partner (Kadans) build on Oxford presence

Kadans continue to flex their muscles in Oxford, adding a further asset to their growing portfolio. In November 2021, Kadans completed a sale and leaseback of Windrush Court with Oxford Biomedica for £60 million. The 75,000 sq ft facility comprises laboratories and offices and the purchase proceeds will enable Oxford Biomedica to improve its cash position, providing financial flexibility to facilitate its work in cell and gene therapy. Kadans will benefit from an initial annual rent of £3.5 million, rising to £4.7 million after five years.

This builds on Kadans' footprint in the region which already consists of the Sherard Building at The Oxford Science Park, together with Monarch House and Penlon House at Abingdon Business Park, both of which sit adjacent to Kadans existing ownership of The Science Quadrant.

Oxford Technology Park

The surge in investment in Oxford last year was largely driven by Life Science REIT’s acquisition of Oxford Technology Park for £183 million in May. Encouragingly, part of the deal included a £62.7 million forward funding element to facilitate the park’s build out. With some vacant space remaining at the park, the trust is looking to offer “next phase space” for university spin outs leaving incubators. Simon Farnsworth, managing director of the firm’s investment advisor, Ironstone Asset Management, has commented that the intention is to build out as quickly as possible as they are “getting multiple enquiries on buildings that we haven’t even started work on yet”.

The Oxford Science Park (TOSP)

TOSP is set to expand by 400,000 sq ft through three new laboratory and office buildings on Plots 23-26. With construction due to start this year and complete at the end of 2024, the new area will provide key space for growth for both existing park occupiers and new companies. The buildings will target an Excellent rating under BREEAM by incorporating sustainable design and a focus on reducing carbon during construction.

Detailed proposals for a new 4 storey building to accommodate 75,000 sq ft of lab and office facilities has also been submitted for Plot 27.

These expansion plans all bode well for the creation of skilled jobs and continued growth in the region. 

Oxford Business Park

Following its acquisition of Oxford Business Park (OBP) in 2021, Brookfield, the asset manager has speculatively redeveloped, refurbished and let approximately 60,000 sq ft of space to accommodate ever growing demand for space from life science companies. This has resulted in Brookfield welcoming three new leading science organisations to the space, whilst also providing space for current members to grow. For example, Exact Sciences have taken over 17,000 sq ft of lab enabled space to drive their mission of changing lives through earlier and smarter detection of cancer.

With Brookfield rebranding the OBP as ARC Oxford, it is looking to continue addressing the lack of lab-enabled space by doubling the current 514,000 sq ft of Oxford City space by bringing new labs, cleanrooms, offices and R&D facilities to the campus. ARC is aiming to make the first 50,000 sq ft available as soon as this year. Dan Williams, director of asset management at ARC Oxford says “this will allow our members to scale at pace, focusing on the scientific discoveries that will help solve some of the greatest challenges that we face”.

It is extremely encouraging that Brookfield is set to invest over £1 billion in Oxfordshire across the ARC Oxford and Harwell Campuses by the end of this decade. The company has 5 million sq. ft of development potential planned across the UK’s Golden Triangle, with 3 million sq. ft planned at the 700-acre Harwell site.

Milton Park

Developer MEPC has ambitious development plans for Milton Park. They are hoping to convert a 58,760 square foot office block into a 79,600 sq ft lab facility, which would involve a two storey front extension and the addition of office and plant space. A development notice has been submitted to the Vale of White Horse District Council and should they give the plans the green light, repurposing is set to begin towards the end of this year.

Longfellow, PSP and Norges joint venture

Longfellow Real Estate Partners, a real estate investment company founded in Boston, together with Public Sector Pension Investment Board (one of Canada’s largest pension investment managers), and Norges Bank Investment Management, are entering into a partnership, which will target £1.5 billion of investment in life sciences and innovation real estate across the UK, with particular focus on the Golden Triangle, boding well for Oxford.

Longfellow Real Estate Partners Co-Founder & CEO, Adam Sichol has commented that “Together we see the opportunity to create thoughtful, world class space to support a range of occupiers across the UK’s life science and innovation ecosystems.”

Round up

Despite these examples demonstrating that exciting progress is being made, there is no room for complacency if we are to take advantage of the opportunities that Oxford can bring. Anna Strongman, chief executive of Oxford University Development, aptly summarised “We must get on with it because if people can’t find space in Oxford, they are not going to other places in the UK, they are going to Boston in the US, for example. It’s imperative that we realise the potential of the city, the university and of the sector. We just have to be very fleet of foot and nimble about how we do that.”

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