Using an onion as a metaphor for explaining the commercial property scene in and around Cambridge is becoming a default position of mine when discussing the matter with those who are unfamiliar with the area.
Some ‘outsiders’ use the terminology of ‘cluster’ and ‘hub’ in relation to Cambridge but these words tend to imply something a bit more self-contained and closed off.
Although Cambridge commercial property is operating in somewhat of a rarefied atmosphere with rents and availability in the city centre and central business and science parks make it more and more exclusive, it’s far from being excluding.
As we wend our way towards the end of the year the onion is getting bigger. Not only is it becoming denser at its core, but more layers are being added too.
At the core, Development Securities has confirmed the pre-let of one the final three buildings of Phase VI of the Cambridge Science Park to an existing occupier at the Park which is expanding. Construction of the 42,000 sq ft pre let building will start next February with a view to completion in the second quarter of 2015.
In the same press announcement, Development Securities also confirmed that ‘interest in the remaining two buildings is strong’ and pointed to occupier demand at its Cambourne Business Park – which is in the west layer of the onion and sits within the wider and still fairly new settlement of Cambourne.
Over in the south east layer, Carisbrooke Investments is gearing up for the next stage of its development Haverhill Research Park which, although in the county of Suffolk, is very much a layer of the Cambridge onion.
Starting with a blank canvas as a green field site, the masterplanning of Haverhill Research Park was able to take a holistic approach to not only providing up to 450,000 sq ft of office and R&D laboratory space and supporting business accommodation but also the freedom to factor in complementary and substantial residential and associated amenities.
Next year will also, finally, see the out-of-the-ground start of the new settlement of Northstowe in the onion’s northern layer. Although pitched with a bias towards a residential settlement, there will be commercial opportunities there too.
While such opportunities are not so openly targeted at the technology or pharma businesses in the way that the Cambourne and the Haverhill parks are, Northstowe will add yet another layer around the Cambridge onion’s city core.