A Bidwells report suggests take up in the Cambridge office and lab market hit a five-year high in H2 2019.

The research suggests that science and tech occupiers have shrugged off last year’s political and economic uncertainty in the race for space in Cambridge’s world class cluster. 

The agent released its latest offices and labs research, which confirmed the city was largely untouched by the uncertain economic outlook generated by Brexit and the December General Election with take-up well ahead of the 10-year average for the city.  

The largest deal of the year was a 79,500 sq ft pre-let at Cambridge’s CB1 in October which means each of the top three largest global tech firms have each taken at least 80,000 sq ft of R&D office space at Brookgate’s CB1. 

The research goes on to say that take up figures were at their highest level since AstraZeneca agreed to move its new global HQ and R&D centre to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in 2014/15.  

Prime rents rose 12 per cent to an historic high of £46.50 psf with Bidwells now forecasting they will rise to £53 psf by 2024. 

Availability stands at 643,300 sq ft – well below the level of business space requirements which currently stand at 1.2 million sq ft.

Max Bryan, head of laboratory and office agency at Bidwells, said: “The first half of the year was relatively strong but quickened after the summer with occupiers focussing on securing their long-term place in Cambridge’s world class science and tech cluster rather than dwelling on the wider economic outlook.”

Mr Bryan added: “The continued lack of supply of Grade A space in the market and sustained high levels of demand means activity inevitably focusses on pre-lets with the corporates securing space near the station and scaling up science and tech occupiers coming out of the university racing for the best space available.”

He concluded: “This is having a continued impact on rent levels and you could now justifiably put Cambridge in the same category as Zone 2 in London.

 “Cambridge has a unique research environment, built up over centuries, with a well-established occupier base that you can’t replicate anywhere else. 

“To maintain its pre-eminence in a global market of top research clusters, Cambridge must continue delivering the new office and laboratory space needed to service the growing science and tech sectors.”  

Bidwells deduced that knowledge intensive business were responsible for over 81 per cent of the letting activity in the year, roughly evenly split between the life science and tech sectors. 

In summary the report showed:

  • Combined office and laboratory take-up at 805,100 sq ft – highest level for five years
  • Another major US tech giant secures 79,500 sq ft pre-let for occupation in 2021 
  • Rents rose 12 per cent to historic high of £46.50 sq ft – levels now only slightly behind London’s Canary Wharf

The second largest deal of the year was Displaylink’s expansion and relocation to 61,000 sq ft offices at 22 Science Park and Clovis Oncology took 11,805 sq ft in the Granta Centre at Granta Park in another notable H2 2019 deal. 

The laboratory market was equally buoyant with CARA taking 11,055 sq ft at CPC4 at Capital Park and CN Bio Innovations moved into 332 Cambridge Science Park, taking 8,071 sq ft. 

Image: CGI 30 station road, CB1