Deals for 220,990 sq ft of lab space took place across Oxford, Cambridge and London in Q1 this year, 23 per cent up on Q1 last year.
Cushman & Wakefield’s Golden Triangle Life Sciences Report showed take up in the region was 42 per cent up on the five-year average while the amount in Oxford was at a record 161, 389 sq ft.
Cambridge reported 34,101 sq ft of transactions and London transacted 25,500 sq ft.
The quarter’s figures were driven largely by Moderna taking 145,000 sq ft at Harwell Campus, Oxford (pictured). A further 180,800 sq ft was under offer across the Golden Triangle at the quarter’s close.
Current lab space requirements total 2.86 million sq ft across the Golden Triangle, which equates to 221 per cent of the supply due to complete in the next 18 months.
As of Q1 2023, 1.56 million sq ft is under construction, of which 504,300 sq ft has already been pre-let, with a further 3.72 million sq ft consented.
Despite the pipeline, Cushman & Wakefield predicts further space will be needed.
Inflation in the cost of construction, due to worker shortages and material price rises, combined with interest rates rises, are driving the cost of capital up, making developments take longer.
Across the region, five deals in Q1 were worth a total £339.4m, compared to a total £197.7m in the previous quarter.
Jamie Renison, head of life sciences agency UK at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “Demand for lab space in the Golden Triangle has maintained its momentum in the first part of the year, with a record level of space transacted and under offer.
“Despite the strong start, and the weight of capital looking to deploy into the sector the supply constraints remain a handbrake on expansion.
“The value of planning consent has never been greater as we anticipate delivery of schemes being delayed whilst the planning system takes time to process applications. If the UK is going to become a science and tech superpower, we need the real estate to facilitate that.”
Kiran Patel, from Cushman & Wakefield’s research & insight team, said: “The supply demand equation is stark. Just 22,000 sq ft of new space was delivered in the Golden Triangle during the first quarter which was a tenth of the space transacted.
“This is limiting take up in markets purely due to capacity. Cambridge’s quarterly volume was 61 per cent down on the five-year quarterly average for this reason – the limited space available is seeing intense competition from occupiers desperate to secure space. Oxford, meanwhile, thanks largely to the Moderna deal, posted its highest volume on record.”
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