Guided bus may transport commercial property
Edward Dodson, of property consultants Dodson Jones, muses on who the winners will be from Cambridgeshire’s changing transport infrastructure.
No-one can have failed to notice that the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway is now up and running and that many intrigued local people have tried out the service for their daily commute.
Crossrail I’m afraid it isn’t, but any major infrastructure development that links so many centres over a 25km route is bound to have an impact on property – commercial and residential – both in terms of values and overall appeal.
So who are the winners and losers? The most obvious losers are the thousands who work at or visit Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon, every day. A route past the hospital was in the early plans for the Busway, but never became reality.
Winners take all
In the commercial property sector, there are clear winners along the northern fringe of Cambridge, including Cambridge Science Park and Vision Park in Histon. These parks would welcome a reduction in motor traffic and those staff who chose to live north of their workplace will certainly be among the first to try the Busway. But there are other smaller schemes too, that should see their accessibility and appeal improved by the new route. St Ives Business Park, a venture by Endurance Estates, is marketing space in its Si One and Si Two buildings for office and research occupiers.
There is currently 10,659 sq ft (990 sq m) of space available in Si Two and 2,617 sq ft (243 sq m) in Si One. This park is very close to the Busway’s St Ives park and ride site and will feel the benefits as the buses become more popular.
Occupiers at out-of-town schemes along the route, including Digital Park at Longstanton, will now find accessibility for staff has improved. Digital Park, immediately adjacent to the Longstanton/Willingham Busway stop, offers economic office and light industrial space to a mix of large and small tenants. Although restricted car parking is not a problem at Digital Park, some staff still have to tackle the A14 – now the Busway gives them another option.
An eye to the future
Costed at perhaps as much as £180 million, the Guided Busway is an investment in the county’s future. New locations for commercial space will be made viable and enabled by improved infrastructure. The developers of Cambridgeshire’s embryonic new town of Northstowe are not only planning 9,500 homes, but also thousands of square feet of commercial space. The Busway was planned as a key element in the sustainability of Northstowe and now developers plan to construct the first new homes on site next year.
The Busway has been controversial and costly. But, setting that aside, the infrastructure of the Cambridge sub-region has been overloaded and struggling for many years and any scheme that improves accessibility and cuts journey times will be a boon for businesses and is likely to become a ‘corridor’ for growth and commercial property development.